16.12.16

U.S prepared to confront Beijing in South China Sea

In an address given in Sydney on Wednesday, Admiral Harry Harris, the head of U.S. Pacific Command, stated that “we will not allow a shared domain to be closed down unilaterally no matter how many bases are built on artificial features in the South China Sea." He continued, "we will cooperate when we can but we will be ready to confront when we must." In turn, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that the South China Sea was stable thanks to the work of China and other nations. "We hope the United States can abide by its promises on not taking sides on the sovereignty dispute in the South China Sea, respect the efforts of countries in the region to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea region, and do more to promote peace and stability there."
The Cipher Take: The U.S. is committed to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea but has indeed pledged not to take sides in the territorial disputes among China and several other countries. However, it has also pledged to uphold the International Court case that ruled against Chinese regional claims earlier this year. China does not support the ruling and its continued island—and military infrastructure—building activities put it at odds with the U.S. position. Ultimately, both sides want regional stability, albeit on very different terms. In a waterway that sees $5 trillion in annual trade revenues, the ramifications of escalation could be dire.

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