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U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter delivers a speech at the 15th International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-la Dialogue, Singapore, June 4, 2016 (AP photo by Wong Maye-E).

South China Sea Spat a Symptom of U.S.-China Jockeying for Advantage

Monday, June 27, 2016

A spate of high-profile diplomatic feuds and military actions related to the South China Sea has raised concern about the direction of U.S.-China relations. At the Shangri La Dialogue held in Singapore from June 3-5, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter charged that China risked “self isolation” through its behavior in the South China Sea. For their part, Chinese officials and media have dismissed such criticisms. President Xi Jinping has firmly defended Chinese actions in the South China Sea, warning that “China will not accept freedom of navigation as an excuse to undermine China’s sovereignty and national security interests.” One Xinhua commentary accused the United States of “building a Great Wall of containment and encirclement by gathering allies and instigating conflicts.”

On the water, a series of near-incidents have further added to the tensions. On May 10, a U.S. destroyer sailed close by a Chinese artificial island in the South China Sea. China responded by sending three combatant vessels and two fighter planes to ward off the U.S. ship. In June, U.S. authorities accused the Chinese of conducting a dangerous, high-speed intercept of a U.S. reconnaissance airplane operating in the South China Sea. ...

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