The South China Sea

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The South China Sea (S.C.S.) is one of the most politically tense and economically important areas in the world today. Every year, $5.3 trillion of trade passes through the S.C.S $1.2 trillion of which belongs to the US. The importance of the S.C.S. has led to increasingly strained tension as competing territorial claims have sharpened over recent years. Tensions have developed over the PRC’s vague claim to the majority of the S.C.S. The so called “nine-dash line” was originally laid down by the Republic of China in 1947 as an eleven-dash line has been the source of conflict in Southeast Asia for some years. In 1974 the PRC seized part of the Paracels from South Vietnam, and in 1988 China and Vietnam had a bloody clash over Johnson Reef.…show more content…
The US, the regions historic de facto power, has a vital interest in maintain stability, specifically in regards to the freedom of navigation and free trade. Though each major actor has its own goals and agenda, the US has the most potential to ease tensions and establish a new regional dynamic that encourages a unified ASEAN and responsible PRC. Within the PRC there is a strong sentiment that now is China’s time to take its place as a major actor in a new multipolar world. This is a key aspect of Xi Jinping’s “China Dream” and a growing pillar of party legitimacy as the Chinese economy slows and matures. A key aspect for China to be perceived as a hub of power is to have the ability to assert its interest in the region. As such, Chinese policy towards the S.C.S has been described as developing a “sphere of influence” similar to the US in the Caribbean during the 19th and 20th century. The South East Asian region would be economically interconnected through Chinese investment and development, creating demand for Chinese goods and services. Politically, smaller states would have the PRC as an advocate and China would insulate itself with friendly neighbors. In an effort to project its growing role in the South-East Asia the PRC has adopted a renewed and more provocative approach to regional politics with more assertive stances on various disputed areas, including the nine dash line. By claiming the vast majority of the S.C.S., or the land features in it, Beijing is
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