South China Sea Disputes Enter a Dangerous Phase: The U.S. Pivot Gathers Steam


“At what point do you say: ‘Enough is enough’?” Philippine President Benigno Aquino exclaimed in an exclusive interview with the New York Times. It was a forceful call for international support amid intensifying territorial disputes with China. Quite shockingly, he even compared China to Nazi Germany, cautioning the Western powers against appeasing Beijing over disputed maritime features in the Western Pacific. China was infuriated by the comments, dismissing him as an “amateurish” politician.

In many ways, it seems that Aquino has abandoned his earlier efforts — to no avail — at reviving communications channels with the Chinese leadership to seek a diplomatic compromise in the South China Sea. But, does he have meaningful external support?

During his recent trip to Asia, I asked British Foreign Secretary William Hague whether the European Union (EU) — and his country, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council — is willing to play an active role in resolving territorial disputes in the Western Pacific. After all, the EU has played a proactive role in resolving most pressing international security issues such as the Syrian civil war and the Iranian nuclear conundrum. And as the Asia-Pacific region emerges as the geopolitical pivot of history, where booming consumer markets increasingly serve as the engine of the world economy, the international community has a stake in ensuring stability and the unimpeded flow of trade and investment across the region.


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