Friday, July 23, 2010

The South China Sea Dispute

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said resolving territorial disputes in waters off China’s coast is “a leading diplomatic priority” as the U.S. strengthens Asian defense ties in the face of a Chinese naval buildup.

Ending disagreements in the South China Sea “is pivotal to regional stability,” Clinton told the 27-member Asean Regional Forum in Hanoi today, according to a transcript provided by the State Department. She is set to meet later today with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

Clinton yesterday discussed military cooperation with Vietnam and Defense Secretary Robert Gates restored ties with special forces in Indonesia. The two countries border the South China Sea, which contains sea corridors vital to world trade, and where U.S. officials say China has become more assertive.

East Asia will be an increasingly dangerous place as the decade progresses. Rapid economic growth is placing the dominance of the US 'umbrella' at doubt, at least in mindset if not practicality.

From China's point of view, the sea is theirs by historic right. No other country in the region sees it that way and, like it or not, they are calling in the United States as a counterweight. And the U.S doesn't maintain some dozen aircraft carriers, as much as the rest of the world combined, to hand over control one of the world's key shipping lanes.

It's highly unlikely the dispute will just be 'resolved'.

1'U.S. Says Settling South China Sea Disputes `Leading Diplomatic Priority' - Bloomberg

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