Peace and Freedom

By Bonnie S. Glaser

While bureaucratic competition among numerous maritime actors is likely a factor that is contributing to tension and uncertainty in the South China Sea, as Linda Jakobson argues in her report China’s Unpredictable Maritime Security Actors, it is probably not the biggest source of instability. Rather, China’s determination to advance its sovereignty claims and expand its control over the South China Sea is the primary challenge.

Vietnam, the Philippines and other nations have objected to China’s claims of ownership in the South China Sea and China’s almost constant armed presence among the contested islands in the South China Sea. Here, a Chinese Coast Guard vessel near a drilling rig that China installed in disputed waters near Vietnam in May 2014.Credit Reuters 

Xi Jinping has clearly signaled that “protection of maritime rights and interests” and “resolutely safeguarding territorial sovereignty” are high priorities, which should be pursued even as…

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