16:22 GMT +325 September 2017
    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.


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    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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