South China Sea: Is Beijing making a new ‘strategic strait’?
The South China Sea doesn’t appear at first glance to be a geographical bottleneck. China can, however, effectively create a strait by locating sufficient military assets on two sets of land it controls.
A major test for the future of Asia is on the horizon, and it’s centered on the South China Sea.
Within the next three months, a tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is expected to rule on China’s expansive and somewhat ambiguous territorial claims in the South China Sea, which the Philippines contends are invalid under international law.
That decision is important for a number of reasons, but among them, experts say, is that China’s island-grabbing campaign may be designed to give Beijing a strategic headlock on one of the planet’s most critical waterways.
Experts tell CNBC that China will likely lose some elements of the Hague case, “Philippines v. China.” The world’s most populous nation has already denounced the process, and opted not to participate, but the tribunal’s decision will technically still be binding under international law.