May 03, 2024

Countering China’s Red Dragon over the South China Sea

There is little doubt that China’s maritime power has grown over the last several decades, with its fleet expected to reach 400 surface combatants by 2025. As they have developed, however, so has their bullish infringement on recognized international law, as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Put simply, Beijing has clear disregard for international cooperation in, on and around the water, not just in the Pacific but worldwide.

That’s a problem for countries who have to deal with it — but it represents an opportunity for the United States to strengthen its relationships with other nations as it seeks to build a geopolitical bloc against China’s expansionism. Some of this work is already underway: the recent trilateral summit that brought together Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and US President Joe Biden, as well as the Pentagon-led Balikatan exercises, are vital in promoting peace and stability, and are fundamental actions that promote and progress international norms, while strengthening US coalitions.

Collaboration between partners who follow international law provides avenues to enforce the Law of the Sea together.

It’s a start, but not enough. The US should endeavor to build similar partnerships with countries who wish for stability throughout the region and to counter China’s gray zone activities. If China is going to be a bad neighbor, Washington should take every opportunity to remind countries in the region about it.

Read the full article from Breaking Defense.

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