Last Nov. 22, 2021, while marking the 30th year of the China-Asean dialogue relationship, China’s President Xi Jinping declared that China does not seek hegemony and will not bully its smaller neighbors. Chinese diplomats routinely assure the world that China does not seek to overturn the existing international system. This is all doublespeak.
China is obviously the hegemon and bully of the South China Sea. China is doubling down on its claim to 85.7 percent of the South China Sea, encroaching on the entire extended continental shelves of Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Brunei in the South China Sea, and claiming large areas of these countries’ exclusive economic zones in the same sea. This assertion to maritime dominance in the South China Sea, patently contrary to international law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), is indisputable proof of China’s hegemonic designs in the South China Sea.