Choke Points are Flash Points


The world is closely watching several contentious flash points that have potential to ignite.

The behavior and rhetoric of China and Russia regarding vital shipping lanes in international waters have been alarming. Disputed sovereignty claims and efforts to enforce them have the maritime world on edge. China’s nine-dash line claims about owning the entire East and South China Sea have created a dilemma for themselves and the other nations in the region.

The Philippines v. China case with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague commenced on Jan. 22, 2013, when the Philippines served China with a notification and statement of claim “with respect to the dispute with China over the maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea.”
When the International Court ruled in favor of the Philippines, that China had no historical claim to disputed islands, China doubled down, and said they would not relinquish their self-anointed sovereignty, and have stated that anyone who sails or flies there in attempt to assert freedom of navigation would be a provocation and worthy of a strong (read that to mean military) response.

Nevertheless, China has still been invited to participate in RIMPAC 2016. And Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Richardson has taken a proactive approach of going to China to visit his counterpart and to tour the Peoples Liberation Army-Navy naval academy and other facilities. It may not be extending the olive branch, but Richardson is making a positive and first step. China could seize the opportunity and halt construction for the time being.