South China Sea: Chinese aggression forces Southeast Asian nations to retreat

Beijing has already won the South China Sea. The U.S. Navy may be navigating its waters with impunity, but no one else is.

The constant harassment has forced Southeast Asian countries to withdraw from their waters. And that’s leaving the West on a limb.

Gregory Poling, director of the Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), said China’s dominance in missiles, aircraft and artificial island fortifications could quickly turn the tide. South China Sea In “Shooting Gallery”.

“It will soon become clear The U.S. has failed to protect U.S. Navy warships operating in the region.’” he claims in a new Diplomatic Journal article.

And Southeast Asian countries know this.

“more China pressure risesmore support for the United States seems like a bad gamble — it benefits Washington, but not its partners,” Pauling wrote in Foreign Affairs.

In any case, countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia face losing access to UN-mandated territorial waters. But by pandering to China, they may hope to limit their diplomatic influence… at least for the time being.

mind game

Polls show China doesn’t want a fight. Even if you beat the U.S. Navy, the costs would outweigh the benefits.

“What China really wants is to convince the rest of Asia that the battle for supremacy is over,” argues Pauling.

Peacetime “gray zone” intimidation tactics have already achieved what they might not be able to achieve in open conflict: regional control. Chinese fishing militias and coast guards are steadily driving back Vietnamese and Philippine fishing fleets. Its research vessels and navy are thwarting exploration of oil and gas deposits by Malaysia and Indonesia.

But when the US Navy passes by, these powers melt away.

In doing so, polls say, “China is hollowing out the value of the United States as a regional security provider.”

Instead, Southeast Asian nations may turn against each other to secure what remains of Beijing’s territorial gains. will fall into the hands of China.

“The ultimate impact would be to destabilize the regional and global order and far more threatening the interests of the United States and its remaining allies,” Poling said.

futile fight

“Given the number of vessels China has deployed in nearby waters and how aggressively the Chinese government encourages vessel action, the loss of life seems inevitable,” the poll warned. there is

And Washington may be driven into a corner where conflict is inevitable.

By loudly defending the victims of Beijing’s expansionist aggression, it becomes difficult to deny calls for military intervention.

And that is despite being in a very bad position to do so.

One of the key tests of Washington’s resolve will be Beijing’s attempt to remove the Sierra Madre, according to polls.

Sending a carrier battle group to save the day is no longer an option, he added. “The truth is that the United States likely has little choice but to cede the South China Sea in the early stages of a conflict with China.”

China’s giant island fortresses are heavily armed and built to be resilient.

“Islands are easier to defend than many people believe,” Pauling says. “This combination of size and fortifications means hundreds of missiles could be needed to neutralize a base. Anything thrown against it must be taken from the defenses of Tokyo or Taipei.”

peer pressure

Beijing is putting pressure on its neighbors, but the impact has been minimal.

“Beijing has been running away from the game since 2016,” says Polling.

And little reason is given for wanting a compromise.

This is evident from the repeated repetition of the South China Sea Code of Conduct with ASEAN countries.

“But things could change if a critical mass of nations starts treating China like other bad guys, like Russia,” he added. “It would make clear that Beijing’s policies in the South China Sea undermine its larger goals.”

It’s not a quick fix. And we need a high degree of international solidarity.

The poll adds that increased military resolve from Washington will also be needed.

“U.S. power on Okinawa and Guam is not a problem. We need a force of aviation and missile assets.”

On the other hand, every effort must be made to strengthen the power of UNCLOS in settling territorial issues.

“This shows that China could be a world leader or a regional bully, but not both,” the poll concludes.

Jamie Seidel is a freelance writer. @Jamie Seidel

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South China Sea: Chinese aggression forces Southeast Asian nations to retreat

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