South China Sea: how the US can head off an ugly showdown with China


With more tit-for-tat rhetoric and military posturing, China and the United States seem to be heading towards a showdown in the South China Sea.

flew over Chinese naval exercises in the Bohai Sea in violation of a no-fly zone. The US followed up China’s missile test by deploying a ballistic missile-detection aircraft to spy on China’s military drills.Upping the ante, on August 26, China fired vaunted “aircraft-carrier killer” missiles into the sea, apparently as a response to the US show of force there with aircraft carrier strike groups. This came after a USU-2 spy plane

on US policy in the South China Sea, which increased the possibility of a clash there. What might come next can be captured in three scenarios.This all came in the midst of a sharp downward spiral in relations, and in the aftermath of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’srecent statement

In a “good” scenario, a united Asean – or at least a majority of nations – would take a stand against both countries’ military posturing and build-up in the area. China and the US would pull in their horns and start to negotiate in earnest.