China in the South China Sea: Has Beijing overstepped the mark?


hy has China just built seven artificial islands in the strategically sensitive and economically critical South China Sea, alarming its neighbors and risking confrontation with the United States?

Because Beijing believes it can get away with the nervy move and bolster an old desire for regional dominance.

“China has wanted to do this for a long time,” says Zhang Jie, head of the Asia Pacific Security program at the government-linked Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. “Now it has the dredging boats, the money and the people. So it is doing it.”

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At the US Naval War College, strategist Peter Dutton has reached the same conclusion. “As China’s interests and horizons expand, so will its impulse to exert physical control,” in its region he predicts.