February 08, 2016

Confronting China in the South China Sea

By Mira Rapp-Hooper

On January 29, the USS Curtis Wilbur, a guided-missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island, a Chinese-held islet in the South China Sea that is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam. Like the United States’ preceding freedom of navigation operation (FONOP), which took place in October, the Wilbur operation was meant to protest Chinese maritime claims that the United States and a number of Southeast Asian states consider excessive. But unlike the earlier mission, which was carried out by the guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen and which experts widely regarded as bungled, the most recent FONOP sent a clear legal message to Beijing and to the public. It also revealed important signs of support for U.S. freedom of navigation operations on the part of regional states.

By all appearances, in other words, Washington is finding its footing in the South China Sea. The United States can go further to sharpen its messaging and win regional support, though, by publicizing more information on its freedom of navigation activities and by building a multilateral coalition that supports them.

Read the full article in Foreign Affairs.

  • Commentary
    • World Politics Review
    • February 8, 2019
    How China and the U.S. Are Competing for Young Minds in Southeast Asia

    Business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month warned that China has overtaken the United States in the development of artificial intelligence and other emer...

    By Kristine Lee

    • Commentary
    • War on the Rocks
    • September 21, 2016
    China's Artificial Islands Are Bigger (And a Bigger Deal) Than You Think

    Surely you have heard the news — China has been dredging up coral reefs and creating artificial islands in the South China Sea with the purpose of enforcing their claims...

    By CDR Thomas Shugart, USN

    • Commentary
    • The National Interest
    • August 10, 2016
    Beijing's Go Big or Go Home Moment in the South China Sea

    China is preparing for its go or go home moment in the South China Sea and it appears they have chosen the right time to make a play for regional and, ultimately, global domin...

    By Jerry Hendrix

    • Commentary
    • Foreign Affairs
    • July 22, 2016
    Parting the South China Sea

    July 12, 2016, marked a turning point in the long-standing disputes over the South China Sea. After more than three years of proceedings at the Permanent Court of Arbitration,...

    By Mira Rapp-Hooper

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia