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China's amphibious ship Jinggangshan is seen during a coordination training with a hovercraft in waters near south China's Hainan Province in the South China Sea.

South China Sea: Why US Hegemony in Southeast Asia May Vanish Into Thin Air

© AP Photo/ Xinhua, Gan Jun
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The South China Sea has turned into Asia's battleground for supremacy between Beijing and Washington, Richard Javad Heydarian, a specialist in Asian geopolitical affairs, notes, adding that the US decades-long naval hegemony in the region may soon vanish into thin air.

America's decades-long naval hegemony in Southeast Asia is waning, while China is steadily gaining ground in the region.

Richard Javad Heydarian, an Assistant Professor in international affairs and political science at De La Salle University, argues that the world is facing the prospect of "full-fledged Chinese domination in the world's most important waterway, the South China Sea."

"America's decades-long naval hegemony in Asia, as we know it, may soon vanish into thin air as a resurgent China reclaims primacy in the region… In a span of two months, China has dramatically redrawn the operational landscape in adjacent waters," Heydarian writes in his analysis for The National Interest.

It is no secret that Washington is determined to maintain its hegemony in the Asia-Pacific at all costs. China's attempts to ensure its own national security in the region are perceived by Washington and geopolitical experts, such as Heydarian, as a direct challenge to the US hegemony.

The scholar endorses Barack Obama's moves aimed at driving a wedge between Beijing and its Asian neighbors.

"A crucial component of the Obama administration's 'constrainment' strategy against China is the mobilization of regional diplomatic support on the South China Sea issue," Heydarian continues.

In addition, Washington is trying to reclaim its leadership in Southeast Asia by using the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summits as a springboard.

A J-11 fighter flies above the South China Sea on Oct. 30, 2015. An aviation division under the South China Sea Fleet of the Chinese PLA Navy carried out on Friday training on real air battle tactics.
A J-11 fighter flies above the South China Sea on Oct. 30, 2015. An aviation division under the South China Sea Fleet of the Chinese PLA Navy carried out on Friday training on real air battle tactics.

The scholar underscores that in order to counterbalance the China-led Maritime Silk Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) the Obama administration launched "the US-ASEAN Connect Initiative to reinforce America's trade, investments and infrastructure footprint in Southeast Asia."

Furthermore, the White House continues to push ahead with its Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, actually aimed at leaving China out in the cold.

At the same time, Washington has no scruples about provoking China's military in the South China Sea.

According to the Navy Times' Thursday report, the United States sent the USS John C. Stennis, two destroyers, two cruisers and the 7th Fleet to the South China Sea, under the pretext of protecting of freedom of navigation in the region.

However, America's assertive policies in Southeast Asia have prompted concerns among American politicians.

"What is the US doing in the South China Sea?" US politician Cynthia McKinney asked in her Op-Ed for RT.

According to McKinney, Washington is trying to throw a monkey-wrench into China's bold economic and infrastructural initiatives aimed at strengthening Asia's integration and boosting the region's development.

People stand near the docked amphibious assault ship USS Essex at Subic Bay, Philippines.
© AP Photo/ Jun Dumaguing
People stand near the docked amphibious assault ship USS Essex at Subic Bay, Philippines.

"The New Silk Road envisions a peaceful integration of the region fostering development of the Continent as a whole. A development that could be explained 'of Asia by Asians for Asians'," she stressed.

"Yet because of its military presence in the form of bases from West Asia to the archipelago countries in the East, the US military is present, blocking any Asian-led effort at integration and already enforcing US policies of containment, rollback, and 'leading from behind," McKinney, a former Democratic member of the US House of Representatives from Georgia and Green Party presidential candidate, highlighted.

To Beijing's credit, the Chinese leadership as of yet has evaded Washington's geopolitical traps.

China's Foreign Ministry has repeatedly stressed that it is committed to resolving all territorial disputes via peaceful negotiations.

"We are committed to resolving the disputes through dialogue and negotiation in a peaceful way," Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a joint press conference with US State Secretary John Kerry in late February.

Wang also underscored that the dispute over the South China Sea was by no means an issue between China and the US and should not become one.

The Chinese official stressed that China has a right to maintain its territorial integrity and legitimate maritime interests.

Related:
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China Claps Back at Reports of Sending Fighter Jets to Disputed Islands
US Urges China to Demilitarize South China Sea
Eliciting Trouble: US Navy Dispatched Several Ships to South China Sea
Tags:
New Silk Road, negotiations, provocation, geopolitics, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Wang Yi, John Kerry, Barack Obama, South China Sea, China, United States
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  • Jet fuel can't melt steel beams
    "We are committed to resolving the disputes through dialogue and negotiation in a peaceful way," Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a joint press conference with US State Secretary John Kerry in late February.

    Well the us don't think that way, they like to use force and threats but China is not a small country or weak..
  • siberianhusky
    Maybe the Americans are dumb enough to create another false flag operation like they did with phony Gulf on Tonkin attack up on a American ship. 55.000 dead American soldiers they again LOST that war like any other ones they have lost.

    China move a few more Dong Feng 21-D's, that are the ones that the U.S Naval Institute calls "the Carrier Killer", closer to the South China Sea. The Game is over before it began.

    www.usni.org/news-and-features/chinese-kill-weapon
  • siberianhuskyin reply toJet fuel can't melt steel beams(Show commentHide comment)
    Jet fuel can't melt steel beams,
    America only attacks small countries where they MIGHT have a chance of winning. So far that track record is not doing too well
  • Klone
    Go rape torture burn during years v2k, their children, their allies and the shits who hide them and burn their bastards at thoses nazis. And burn the media with them. When i find the v2k, i burn all those shits.
  • michael
    this type of article gets me thinking about the abilities and capabilities of the so-called geo-political planners. There are so many situations in the past few years where they have misread or failed to act constructively (for their interests)
  • Ann in reply tomichael(Show commentHide comment)
    michael, Pretty much ANYTHING that any other country does to protect it's own interests, is seen as "a terribly provocative act" by the united snakes. What I'm taking from stories like these, is that the world is preparing to do battle with the NWO.

    World Domination WILL FAIL - it's just the question of how much bleeding the NWO will do until then.
  • michaelin reply toAnn (Show commentHide comment)
    sixpack6t9, and how much bleeding of everyone else....
  • roycomfort
    The issue looks different from each side. For China, it's about expanding its territory, dominating the south-east Asian littoral and driving out the Yankee Imperialists, as a step on the way to being a mighty world power.

    Apart from Russia, for the rest of the world, it's about freedom of navigation in international waters and upholding the Law of The Sea, which is well-codified in international law. If China is allowed to unilaterally annexe the SCS, it is taking maritime territory from its neigbours, Viernam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Phillipines and threatening sea trade with Japan and South Korea. It is equivalent to a rogue nation invading a neighbour and stealing its land, which is also totally not permitted under international law.

    It is encouraging that China, having faced a backlash from the ASEAN countries, is now willing to resolve the issue peacefully. However, no nation is obliged to negotiate its territory away under pressure, which is China's modus operandii, so the game isn't over yet.

    China is currently a long way behind the USN in power, technology, numbers. It may change in a decade or two, it may not. Certainly it is premature for it to be taking a militarily provocative stance. It does not at present cut much ice.

    Those in Russia who seem so whipped up to see the defeat and demise of the USA should try cool their nationalist fervour, read a good book about the Law of the Sea, that will broaden perspectives.
  • Marc Nonnenkamp
    Both America and Europe are in decline, and the powers of the ancient world are on the cusp of reclaiming the supremacy which was theirs. Both China and India were superpowers long before the Roman Empire was one.
  • Ann in reply toroycomfort(Show commentHide comment)
    roycomfort, Sorry roy, but "the law of the sea" only applies when it suits western interests Just ask them, they'll tell you. The US has NO business over on Russia's doorstep, or on China's front porch trying to tell them what they can, or can't do. They ain't the boss of the rest of the world, and the sooner they realize this, the better for the world. Apparently YOU need to read up on some laws and realize that the US doesn't own the China sea. They only own the first 200 miles from the coast of the USA, and I'm pretty sure the China sea is well out of that range. The US needs to get it's butt back to it's own house, and get out of everybody's business.

    That's what this is all about - NOT freedom of navigation in international waters and upholding the Law of The Sea. Besides, almost ALL of the trade going through that area IS TO/FROM CHINA!

    Don't be so quick to buy into the propaganda.
  • roycomfortin reply toAnn (Show commentHide comment)
    sixpack6t9, I don’t think you have quite cracked it here. The big picture is that:

    a) All maritime borders are defined by international law and an international tribunal, they are not up to individual nations to define arbitrary lines
    b) The maximum territorial limit allowed is 12 nautical miles (nmi), within that area is sovereign waters
    c) A nation may claim an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of up to 200 nmi, where it does not impinge on anyone else’s 200 miles. This is NOT however sovereign territory or ‘ownership’, it gives the nation the rights to what’s under the sea – fish, oil, minerals, etc - but remains international waters open to the free passage of merchant vessels and warships, unhindered by airbases on rocks or political stipulations from Beijing.
    d) China’s claim, the famous ‘Nine Dash Line’, extends not 12 or 200 nmi, but more than 900 (!) and encompasses almost the South China Sea in its entirety. This is clearly a total non-starter under the above laws. It is also a non-starter for the ten neighbouring countries affected, whose seas and/or trade China is threatening, and for the international community, which is entitled to trade or sail warships in international waters.

    To make it quite clear, what China is doing is the equivalent of Denmark declaring the Baltic its exclusive EEZ and building airbases on uninhabited rocks to police it up to 12 miles from Kaliningrad and St Petersburg!
  • roycomfort
    sixpack 619, So, to turn now to your points:

    ‘"the law of the sea" only applies when it suits western interests’.
    No, the treaty (UNCLOS) applies to all nations and all maritime boundaries equally. It is adjudicated by UNCLOS, which issues legal rulings in disputes.

    ‘The US has NO business over on Russia's doorstep, or on China's front porch trying to tell them what they can, or can't do. They ain't the boss of the rest of the world, and the sooner they realize this, the better for the world.’
    That is a polemical political point. The substantive maritime issue is that every country has the LEGAL right to sail the high seas up to these 12 nmi borders and no country, other than no doubt Russia, is going to accept rogue states trying to seize international waters.

    ‘Apparently YOU need to read up on some laws and realize that the US doesn't own the China sea. They only own the first 200 miles from the coast, and I'm pretty cure they are well out of that range.’
    As above evidence, I think I have done my reading thanks! But you have lost me here. The US doesn’t have any maritime territorial borders in the SCS. China’s can only extend for 12 miles. You are also confusing EEZ with ‘ownership’, read (c) above again.

    ‘The US needs to get it's but back to it's own house, and get out of everybody's business. That's what this is all about - NOT freedom of navigation in international waters and upholding the Law of The Sea.’
    That is a peculiarly Russian interpretation of things. It confuses Russia’s daily anti-US agitprop, which is political, nationalist and shrill, with how the rest of the world organises its maritime affairs, which is legal, judicial, considered and consensual.

    ‘Besides, almost ALL of the trade going through that area IS TO/FROM CHINA!’
    Wrong, there are 10 countries for which this is the principal maritime trade route, Japan and the ‘tiger’ economies are major users of the sea routes.

    ‘Don't be so quick to buy into the propaganda.’
    I think that is the charge I am levelling at the Russia-centric writers and readers of this article and the above posters!
  • roycomfortin reply toroycomfort(Show commentHide comment)
    sixpack 619, So, to turn now to your points:

    ‘"the law of the sea" only applies when it suits western interests’.
    No, the treaty (UNCLOS) applies to all nations and all maritime boundaries equally. It is adjudicated by UNCLOS, which issues legal rulings in disputes.

    ‘The US has NO business over on Russia's doorstep, or on China's front porch trying to tell them what they can, or can't do. They ain't the boss of the rest of the world, and the sooner they realize this, the better for the world.’
    That is a polemical political point. The substantive maritime issue is that every country has the LEGAL right to sail the high seas up to these 12 nmi borders and no country, other than no doubt Russia, is going to accept rogue states trying to seize international waters.

    ‘Apparently YOU need to read up on some laws and realize that the US doesn't own the China sea. They only own the first 200 miles from the coast, and I'm pretty cure they are well out of that range.’
    As above evidence, I think I have done my reading thanks! But you have lost me here. The US doesn’t have any maritime territorial borders in the SCS. China’s can only extend for 12 miles. You are also confusing EEZ with ‘ownership’, read (c) above again.

    ‘The US needs to get it's but back to it's own house, and get out of everybody's business. That's what this is all about - NOT freedom of navigation in international waters and upholding the Law of The Sea.’
    That is a peculiarly Russian interpretation of things. It confuses Russia’s daily anti-US agitprop, which is political, nationalist and shrill, with how the rest of the world organises its maritime affairs, which is legal, judicial, considered and consensual.

    ‘Besides, almost ALL of the trade going through that area IS TO/FROM CHINA!’
    Wrong, there are 10 countries for which this is the principal maritime trade route, Japan and the ‘tiger’ economies are major users of the sea routes.

    ‘Don't be so quick to buy into the propaganda.’
    I think that is the charge I am levelling at the Russia-centric writers and readers of this article and the above posters!
  • roycomfort
    So, to turn now to your points:

    ‘"the law of the sea" only applies when it suits western interests’.
    No, the treaty (UNCLOS) applies to all nations and all maritime boundaries equally. It is adjudicated by UNCLOS, which issues legal rulings in disputes.

    ‘The US has NO business over on Russia's doorstep, or on China's front porch trying to tell them what they can, or can't do. They ain't the boss of the rest of the world, and the sooner they realize this, the better for the world.’
    That is a polemical political point. The substantive maritime issue is that every country has the LEGAL right to sail the high seas up to these 12 nmi borders and no country, other than no doubt Russia, is going to accept rogue states trying to seize international waters.

    ‘Apparently YOU need to read up on some laws and realize that the US doesn't own the China sea. They only own the first 200 miles from the coast, and I'm pretty cure they are well out of that range.’
    As above evidence, I think I have done my reading thanks! But you have lost me here. The US doesn’t have any maritime territorial borders in the SCS. China’s can only extend for 12 miles. You are also confusing EEZ with ‘ownership’, read (c) above again.

    ‘The US needs to get it's but back to it's own house, and get out of everybody's business. That's what this is all about - NOT freedom of navigation in international waters and upholding the Law of The Sea.’
    That is a peculiarly Russian interpretation of things. It confuses Russia’s daily anti-US agitprop, which is political, nationalist and shrill, with how the rest of the world organises its maritime affairs, which is legal, judicial, considered and consensual.
  • Randall Lee Hilburnin reply tomichael(Show commentHide comment)
    michael, The US means to eliminate any threat to their unilateral control of the planet. aka "The Wolfowitz Doctrine". The Chinese crime is they will not accept US hegemony over themselves. The US only abides by international law when it furthers their ambitions to do so. They ignore it when it doesn't. I wonder if the Chinese really understand though that US ambitions can never accept any limit short of total world domination. It is an all or nothing proposition, a "Waterloo" if you are familiar with poker.
  • Randall Lee Hilburnin reply tomichael(Show commentHide comment)
    michael, Do you remember what the Duke Of Wellington said after viewing the battlefield after the Battle Of Waterloo was over. "The next saddest thing after a battle lost, is a battle won."
  • michaelin reply toRandall Lee Hilburn(Show commentHide comment)
    Randall, and he was very sadly correct. That would be a memory that one would hold to the death; such a field of the fallen and dying.
  • michaelin reply toRandall Lee Hilburn(Show commentHide comment)
    Randall, distantly familiar :) So, the us approach is to attack the confidence of the enemy and hope that they don't have a better sense of 'exceptionality' - sorry I meant identity and determination... This is interesting then because it fits with elements of the language used by the us and anglosaxons in general. :)
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