The map shows “dashes” around the edge of the South China Sea supposedly signifying China’s claim to only the islands within the perimeter. Those islands are subject to competing claims by other shoreline nations, specifically, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, and Taiwan.
When China ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in June 1996, analysts believed that China had abandoned its expansion into international waters based on the 1947 claim, which included the areas on the map with the ominous “dashes.”
The new development of a landfill island composed of sand and concrete complete with an air strip long enough to accommodate military aircraft renewed concern by neighboring countries sharing access to the South China Sea. The United States is directly involved because of treaties with countries like the Philippines; however, this has not stopped the slow intrusion by China into international waters.
Beijing has come forth with a new map supplanting the 1947 one in which they have converted “dashes” into outlines which include Chinese boundaries. They claim all the islands and waters inside the line belong to them. It’s being described as the biggest land grab of territory since World War II, according to a report in Forbes.
President Barack Obama’s pivot to the Asian Pacific region in 2014 signaled a new reinvestment diplomatically, militarily, commercially and in terms of policymaking. Rebalancing began with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s trip to Asia, which was the first time since 1961 that a secretary of state visited the region.
In December of 2014, Joseph Stiglitz, American economist and professor at Columbia University, wrote that the 21st century is going to be China’s century. China, he says, “enters 2015 in the top position, where it will likely remain for a very long time, if not forever. In doing so, it returns to the position it held through most of human history.”
Furthermore, Stiglitz contends that the US and China are “intertwined” and have an interest in stability and efficient global political and economic order. He emphasizes cooperation between the super powers to accomplish goals. The US should maintain its ability to use “soft power” in economic and political practices, in both domestic and foreign policy.
If relations with Iran and the Middle East are an example, then the Obama administration is following a “soft power” path utilizing sanctions and ultimately diplomacy to implement change. But will this work in Asia when the primary power China governs and creates policy with a heavy hand. They used invasive, assimilation practices to take over Tibet, which has resulted in the slow demise of the Tibetan people, culture and language.
By actually building land masses in disputed international waters, China is once again encroaching and creating instability in a region which according to Stiglitz is the opposite of what should be evolving in Asia. Can the United States continue to look the other way when China acts in its own interests, rather than considering the global consequences of empire building—which is essentially what is happening?
is retired and lives in Clearlake, California. She has three grown
children and one grandson and a Bachelor’s degree in Health Services
Administration from St. Mary’s College in Moraga California. On the
home front Dava enjoys time with her family, reading, gardening, cooking
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