Duterte’s Uncertain China Gamble

Breaking with tradition, the Philippines’ controversial leader Rodrigo Duterte chose China for the first major state visit of his presidency. Traditionally, Filipino leaders have visited “all-weather” friends such as Washington or Tokyo before Beijing. This time, however, the Filipino president decided to postpone a scheduled visit to Japan in favor of China, while signaling strategic […]

Are Maritime Law Enforcement Forces Destabilizing Asia?

The following is an excerpt from the latest feature by CSIS’s ChinaPower project. Maritime disputes in the South China Sea present an array of potential flashpoints between countries with overlapping claims. In recent years, many of these countries have mobilized government vessels traditionally used for maritime law enforcement to reinforce their territorial claims. Key among […]

Can Ramos Break the Ice in Philippines-China Relations?

Consistent with his campaign promise, the Philippines’ new president Rodrigo Duterte has stepped up efforts to mend ties with China, despite the latter’s flagrant rejection of the Philippines’ recent law-fare victory at The Hague. Duterte has deputized no less than former president Fidel Ramos, who also dealt with Chinese maritime assertiveness in the mid-1990s, to […]

A Tumultuous 2016 in the South China Sea

This promises to be a landmark year for the claimant countries and other interested parties in the South China Sea disputes. Developments that have been underway for several years, especially China’s island-building campaign in the Spratlys and Manila’s arbitration case against Beijing, will come to fruition. These and other developments will draw outside players, including […]

Seeing the Forest through the SAMs on Woody Island

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 […]

South China Sea FONOP 2.0: A Step in the Right Direction

The Navy destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur passed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island, the southernmost of the Paracel Islands, on January 30 in the second operation in the South China Sea in recent months under the Department of Defense’s Freedom of Navigation Program. And despite significant disappointment in some quarters, the operation was a […]

Getting the Balance Right: Singapore and Sino-U.S. Rivalry in the South China Sea

In November, Singapore hosted a visit by Chinese president Xi Jinping. Notwithstanding the conclusion of several bilateral agreements, the spotlight invariably focused on Xi’s comments on the South China Sea, where he reiterated China’s commitment to freedom of navigation and the peaceful resolution of the South China Sea disputes.  Xi’s assurances were timely given regional […]