As the 2017 chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Duterte has soft-pedaled on the South China Sea disputes in an effort to please China. The upshot is the regional body’s fast slide into irrelevance in shaping the regional security architecture.
Since October 2015, the United States has conducted seven freedom of navigation operations that seek to challenge specific Chinese claims in the South China Sea. Eleanor Freund of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs recently published a report on the FONOPs program that details exactly how the U.S. Navy challenged five of those seven claims, as well as explaining the purpose and utility of the program in the South China Sea.
In this podcast we discuss altering the U.S. policy approach to the South China Sea. Where does the South China Sea rank in the pecking order of U.S. policy interests? How much risk should America be willing to take over these disputed waters?