How America Is Losing the Battle for the South China Sea

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What a difference a year makes. In late summer 2016, there was some hope the July 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling in favor of the Philippine interpretation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea regarding the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal would curtail Beijing’s subsequent activity in the South China Sea (despite China’s refusal to even participate in the arbitration case or recognize the court’s jurisdiction, let alone accept the ruling).

In fact, some optimists, like Lynn Kuok from the National University of Singapore, have pointed to small developments—such as China this year permitting Filipino and Vietnamese fishing around Scarborough Shoal for the first time since 2012—as encouraging signs that the Hague’s ruling is having a positive effect. [READ MORE]

Maritime delimitation between Indonesia and the Philippines and the South China Sea dispute

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On the occasion of the House of Representatives of Indonesia on April 27, 2017 ratifying the Maritime Agreement between Indonesia-Philippines - a historical agreement signed in 2014, would like to introduce the article “Indonesia-Philippines Agreement: Lessons for South China Sea Claimants” written by Ambassador Arif Havas Oegroseno, Deputy Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs and Resources of Indonesia.


Joint Communiqué of the G7 FMM: Settlement of disputes in the SCS must comply with int’l law

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On 10-11 April 2017, the Foreign Ministers Meeting of the Group of Seven countries (G7) held in Lucca, Italy issued the Joint Communiqué addressing major international issues that impact global peace and security, including maritime security.

The Joint Communiqué of the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting clearly states as follows:


Australia should stay vigilant against China

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BDN - In a joint press conference during Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Australia on February 2, 2017, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop seemed to hint that Australia might divert in its South China Sea policy since she has not mentioned the South China Sea issue and the Arbitral Tribunal’s Award.

Australia seems to show its closer relation with China through boosting economic cooperation, especially after US President Donald Trump announced the US’s withdrawal from TPP and the Philippines’ changes under the Rodrigo Duterte administration. However, Australia needs to stay vigilant because of China’s big ambition.


How the US got outplayed in the Asia-Pacific

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In the waning days of the Obama administration, the worm may be turning regarding the US military’s welcome in Asia. Indeed, the Obama foreign policy brain trust may be underestimating China’s diplomatic leverage and skill, and overestimating its own.

The current trends are not auspicious for the US. Indeed, we may be seeing a slow but sure seismic shift in US political standing in the region. [READ MORE]

Vietnam Poised To Be Asia's Next Economic Tiger

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For many of my generation, Vietnam remains a complex enigma, depending on our personal experiences and memories of the country.

I arrived in Vietnam in 1970 as a U.S. Army captain and was immediately overwhelmed by the country’s natural beauty and the genuine warmth and hospitality of the local Vietnamese. [READ MORE]

How Laos Tries to Balance Its Powerful Neighbors

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HONG KONG — A rare spotlight is being cast on Laos as world leaders, including President Obama, prepare to gather in its capital, Vientiane, for meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, and other countries beginning on Tuesday.

A former French colony that gained full independence in 1954, Laos is one of the world’s few remaining Communist countries. It has long depended on its neighbors China, Vietnam and Thailand for investment and political patronage.

Beijing is on the back foot over the South China Sea dispute - America must act now

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Since the Tribunal constituted under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea handed down its unanimous and sweeping award on July 12 in the case brought by the Philippines against China, there has been an eerie calm in the waters of the South China Sea.

As expected, Beijing rejected the ruling, which found that China has no legal basis for claiming historic rights inside its nine-dash line that covers 62 percent of the South China Sea's approximately 1.4 million square miles of water. [READ MORE]

Would America Really Go to War Over the South China Sea?

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What would America do if China starts to build an island base on Scarborough Shoal, declares an ADIZ over the Spratlys, or in some other way plainly takes steps to strengthen still further its grip on the South China Sea in defiance of international law and American demands?

President Obama ought to think about this very carefully as he visits China for the last time as President, because it has become the question that will define the future of the US-China relationship.

UNCLOS Won't Help America in the South China Sea

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Last month’s much-awaited ruling in Philippines v. China rekindled a longstanding debate among foreign-policy experts and elected officials over the implications of the Senate’s decades-long refusal to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

But rather than focus on China’s blatant disregard for its international legal obligations, some have highlighted that the United States’ absence from UNCLOS allows China “to deflect U.S. criticism and highlight Washington’s hypocrisy,” as East Asia expert Ali Wyne put it. [READ MORE]


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This article aims to provide a fair assessment of the military significance of the South China Sea land features. The term land feature is intentionally selected to avoid the trouble of arguing whether they are islands, reefs, shoals or rocks.

How these land features can be categorized into the terms shown above may possibly cause differences according to the international regimes governing maritime jurisdictions, but not the military significance of the land features alone. [READ MORE]

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