On the day President-elect Donald J. Trump first steps foot in the oval office the weight of the world’s problems will be squarely on his shoulders. The Islamic State, tensions with Russia and an out of control Syrian Civil War will loom large, ready to test the resolve of the new administration almost immediately.
Moreover, while all of the above could fully occupy the new President’s attention for years to come, a greater, multi-decade dilemma with truly global ramifications awaits—the growing challenge presented by the People’s Republic of China.
No Bigger Challenge:
While many experts and scholars can readily recite a laundry list of reasons for growing tensions in the U.S.-Sino relationship, there is only one that counts: Beijing has determined that it no longer needs to bide its time or hide its capabilities, evidenced by China’s opposition to a U.S. led international system in the Asia-Pacific. In fact, Beijing has every intention to slowly but surely push America out of Asia and dominate what is clearly the world’s fastest growing economic region today.
And among all of the China-related problems Trump will need to deal with, growing economic competition, a rising military, increasing pressure on Japan in the East China Sea, tensions with what Beijing describes as the “renegade province” of Taiwan and so on, there is one, to be specific, a certain body of water that will test the skills of his new diplomats and strategists more than anything else: the South China Sea.