CSIS experts Zack Cooper and Bonnie Glaser join AMTI director Gregory Poling to discuss the South China Sea at the start of 2018, including whether the Trump administration has an effective strategy on the issue, what China hopes to achieve in the disputed waters, and recommendations for the year ahead.
In what might be an event soon forgotten by the international community, China’s paramilitary forces once again demonstrated their willingness to use force to intimidate other countries and risk escalation. Although the specifics of the incident remain sketchy, reports indicate that on March 27 a speedboat, presumably operated by the China Coast Guard, fired seven times upon the unarmed Princess Johann, a Filipino fishing trawler, while the vessel was operating near Union Banks in the Spratly Islands, which is near Gaven Reef - one of China’s newly built artificial islands. It is unknown whether the incident occurred within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, international waters, or the territorial sea of a disputed feature. What is clear, however, is that incidents akin to what occurred at Union Banks could undermine the recent warming of relations between China and the Philippines, and underscore the need for a binding Code of Conduct (COC) for the South China Sea.
The recent deployment of Chinese surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) to Woody Island is a notable tactical development, but a far more significant strategic signal. Tactically, the HQ-9 batteries deployed to Woody Island could target aircraft at ranges up to 125 miles (200 kilometers), covering much of the Paracel Islands, which are also claimed by Vietnam and […]
After months of internal debate within the Obama administration, the guided missile destroyer USS Lassentransited within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef, one of China’s artificially-built features in the South China Sea, on October 27 in what is termed a “freedom of navigation” (FON) operation. It was accompanied by two maritime surveillance aircraft, a P-8A […]
Foreign policy decisionmaking in China has always been opaque, but under Chinese Communist Party General Secretary and President Xi Jinping, it has become even more cryptic. The strongest leader to come to power in more than two decades, Xi has concentrated power in his own hands and rarely vets foreign policy initiatives with the […]
At regional meetings in Kuala Lumpur this week, China attempted to reassure regional nations of its peaceful intentions and deflect attention from its destabilizing activities in the Spratly Island chain in the South China Sea. Speaking to reporters, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Beijing had halted dredging sand to build artificial islands. “China […]
Q1: What has China announced about its land reclamation activities in the Spratly Islands? A1: On June 16, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang announced that “as planned, the land reclamation project of China’s construction on some stationed islands and reefs of the Nansha (Spratly) Islands will be completed in the upcoming days.” He noted […]
Since China first sent a senior military officer to participate in the Shangri-la Dialogue (SLD) in 2007, it has come to the annual security meeting prepared with a carefully crafted strategy to deflect criticism and advance Chinese interests. This year was no exception. On the eve of the SLD, Beijing released its Defense White Paper, […]
Growing international criticism of China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea and the publication of detailed images of China’s dredging and construction activities prompted the Chinese government to explain in greater detail than ever before the purpose of these activities. In response to U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s charge that China has “intensified the […]
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) announced on March 4 that it would raise its defense budget by 10.1 percent in 2015, which continues an almost unbroken pattern of double-digit annual increases over the past two decades. Meanwhile, defense spending by the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan, which faces an ever-growing military threat from […]
In November 2014, the United States and China concluded two major confidence-building measures (CBMs), which they announced at a bilateral summit. The CBMs include an agreement that each side will notify the other of major military activities, and a code of conduct for safe maritime and air encounters. Where the code of conduct is concerned, […]
China’s various maritime actors are increasingly being coordinated and directed by senior policymakers as part of a larger strategy aimed at protecting China’s sovereignty and maritime rights. The first signs of strengthened coordination and supervision were evident as early as mid-2012, when Chinese maritime vessels and Chinese fishing boats—with People Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ships […]
Where China is concerned, successful implementation of the rebalance hinges upon a recognition in both capitals that neither country can hope to organize the future order in East Asia without the other. Chinese and U.S. leaderships say they subscribe to this axiom, but their respective behavior suggests that both sides seem reluctant to truly eschew […]
The South China Sea is likely to persist as a source of tension both between China and its Southeast Asian maritime neighbors, and between China and the United States in 2015. China’s land reclamation activities, which are taking place at six of the seven reefs under Chinese control in the Spratly Island chain, will advance […]
In an effort to strengthen China’s regional leadership role and promote its new Asian security concept, China’s military convened the fifth Xiangshan Forum, November 20-22. Previously a venue held in alternate years for foreign scholars and the PLA to conduct exchanges on international security issues, this year’s conference was upgraded to an annual Track 1.5 […]
In 1998 the United States and China established the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA) to avoid accidents when their respective maritime and air forces operate in close proximity. Sixteen years of negotiations yielded little progress, until now. Two agreements on military confidence building measures were inked at the US-China summit in Beijing: notification of major […]