The Fog of Law: China’s Great South China Sea Dilemma

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Recent months have witnessed an impressive Chinese diplomatic blitzkrieg, with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang feverishly courting friends and foes alike, proposing ambitious trading agreements and acquiescing to various confidence building measures (CBMS) aimed at de-escalating geopolitical tensions in the region. But China’s intensifying legal battle with the Philippines has injected new uncertainties into the picture. What has emerged in recent days is a new chapter of confrontation between Beijing and its Southeast Asian neighbors, particularly Manila and Hanoi. Interestingly, the United States has joined the legal fray by expressing its stance on—or, to put it more accurately, criticism of—China’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea.

On the one hand, there have been considerable diplomatic gains in the past few weeks. To prevent accidental clashes in the high seas and the skies, Beijing signed CBMs with Washington and green-lighted the resumption of (mid-level) talks between Chinese and Japanese agencies, which oversee security and foreign-policy issues. China has also proposed a defense hotline with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), dangled $20 billion in development loans and offered to host a high-profile meeting between the defense minister of China and his Southeast Asian counterparts next year. Chinese and Vietnamese defense ministries also reportedly signed (an additional) hotline, with both Communist countries agreeing to revive deeply frayed bilateral relations.

Rad more: http://nationalinterest.org/feature/the-fog-law-chinas-great-south-china-sea-dilemma-11889

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