Solving South China Sea Spat
Image Credit: US Navy

Solving South China Sea Spat


Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard used the phrase 'Yes, we will' to launch her re-election campaign. The country could also use some of the 'Yes, we will' spirit to help improve China-US and China-Vietnam relations.

The United States and Australia both have strong maritime interests in the region, in terms of sea-based resources and also trying to ensure free sea lanes. But China is also a major maritime stakeholder, with ever-increasing sea-based interests commensurate with its rapid economic growth.

As with many powers before it, China's growing maritime interests could overlap and even conflict with others. Yet it would be more precise to say that it’s often others’ claims that have overlapped with earlier Chinese claims. For example, in 1947, the Chinese government raised a claim over the South China Sea, a claim not made by some Association of Southeast Asian Nations states until as late as the 1970s or even  1980s.

Such conflicting claims by the parties involved in disputes over the South China Sea (or elsewhere) aren’t necessarily ill-intended. But, regardless, some way needs to be found to peacefully reconcile these competing claims. For instance, China has opposed the USS George Washington's participation in drills in the Yellow Sea, a position that clashes with US interests. Such a disagreement must be settled through discussions to ensure a mutually acceptable outcome.

Of course tensions between the two are about more than the naval drills. China has also argued against US access to its Exclusive Economic Zone in the South China Sea, while the United States for its part has refused to accept China’s understanding of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

But this issue could easily be settled by seeking an authoritative interpretation of UNCLOS through the International Court of Justice. Besides, China seems to have claimed most, if not the entire, South China Sea. All parties to the dispute, including China, should therefore abide by the Declaration on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea signed in 2002 by China and all ASEAN members, which excludes the use—or threat of the use—of force.

The US cares about freedom of navigation in the region and apparently believes that sooner or later China will too. But there’s some heavy historical baggage to bear on this issue. China feels uncomfortable with a dominant US Navy in its backyard, especially in the context of Taiwan—it is, after all, the US that has threatened mainland China's free access to the waters around Taiwan. China, in contrast, has never taken action to deny others access to the entire South China Sea, in particular in areas beyond its EEZ.

December 8, 2011 at 02:00

China stands no match to the US Navy alone, i mean if the US navy brings every strike fleet into SCS den i mean just whoa, even if this missile China has a good success rate the US navy can still hunt out everything with a China flag on water. But can the US do it without Russia interfering, the US increasing intrest in China will alarm Moscow and where will it lead to…
This world doesnt want another war it cant handle, US should not be agressive in SCS leave it to ones who need it the US should only enter if nukes are used on either side (i pray it doesnt happen), i just saw an American support use of nukes if necessary, God forbid it Chinese should learn to respect others and leave its arrogance but not nukes never, please, even on a comments section on a website please

July 30, 2011 at 04:25

you are delusional. The seas around south east asia were navigated by the Malays/austronesians long before the Hans of the yellow river valley reached the southern coast of what is now China. You don’t know your own history . Huge Malay ships called Jongs united the disparate islands of peninsular and insular south east asia. Our ancestors navigated these seas for trade ,food and exploration long before Admiral Zheng He ! island south east asia was populated by migrations through this sea. The arrogance of the Chinese is telling in your post when you fail to note this historical facts. We are a maritime people whose influence extends today through Madagascar whose language is Malay/austronesian through Polynesia. Please dump this ignorance somewhere else. The independent and democratic nations of ASEAN would never let communist imperial China strike a dagger into the very heart of south east asia. Go back to the main land!

July 23, 2011 at 01:10

being anti-Chinese does not mean hate speech…. the Chinese are so full of themselves that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is automatically anti-Chinese and promotes hate speech


Leonard R.
July 3, 2011 at 16:06

Unlike Afghanistan, a war with China is worth fighting and long overdue.
If one of China’s ‘carrier-killer’ missiles actually work, then it will
go nuclear very fast.

China has been asking for this. America should give China exactly what it has asked for.

Solution to South China Sea
April 13, 2011 at 06:36

The real solution to the South China Sea based on geopolitics should be:
1)Paracel Islands belongs to China.
2)Macclesfield Bank goes to China while Scarborough Shoal goes to Phillipines.
3)China and Taiwan-province of China gives up claim of Spratly Islands to Asean countries.

September 22, 2010 at 08:20

If Dr Mahathir-bin-Mohammed cannot trust the Australians, why should the Chinese?!

September 6, 2010 at 03:56

The United States, and the American and Americans, are still bound by, amongst other things, the Laws of Nature, including the Laws of Physics, and the Laws of Economics, ECONOMICS, etc., and the Laws of Reality, whether you and they liked it and them or not or else.

Neither the Bill of Rights of the, nor the Constitution, of the United States would protect neither the United States, nor the American and Americans, from, e.g., for example, the Law of “E = M*C*C”, or the Law of E equals to M plus C-Square.

The logic behind de-facto subsidising in cash and in monies a foreign, FOREIGN, Power, a formally-allied one or not or else, including Viêt-Nam, and thereby further increasing the Balance of Deficit in the Balance of the Current Accounts of the United States, is quite and rather puzzling and beyond me and one indeed.

September 6, 2010 at 02:48

The real, REAL, and the true, TRUE, soldiers of warriors, such as the Chinese, the Korean and the Koreans, and the Japanese, do not, NOT, require body-bags or coffins for that matter;

Do forgive him for having no access to the information in the Written form of the Han Chinese language, but none, NONE, of the Chinese Fallen back in the Korean War, e.g., for example, were, or are, allowed to or permitted to be let to be repatriated to be re-interred back into China or into the Chinese Manchuria.

Only the American and the Americans, with the never-ending obsession with the Human Sexuality, even into areas such as Enlisting and as Commissioning, or the Cowards, would concern himself, herself and themselves so much with the nonsense with the non-Essential items such as this.

September 6, 2010 at 02:17

To quote quote “If they do not they will find themselves coming home with their noses cut off.” and unquote.

Would the Moderators, THE MODERATORS, please care to reconsider for consideration into the removal of the aforementioned comment due to the offending last paragraph thereof, for both being of “Hate-Speech” and for possible, POSSIBLE, incitement to physical violence; and

And thank you, and thank you very much.

Mr Obvious
September 2, 2010 at 16:14

Let’s talk facts.

1. For this article, how can someone reason with China or a Chinese nationalist when all they know is what China’s news agencies such as Xinhua and others throw out. They only know of China’s outrageous viewpoints.

2. China is not innocent and is not on a peaceful rise. Examples are the Paracel and Spratly islands that Vietnam held and governed. China attacks South Vietnam on the Paracel Islands and they claim they are innocent and then occupies them. China kills innocent Vietnamese in the Spratly’s and they claim they are innocent.

3. China always uses their historic claims to the South China Sea and all the islands. You guys better find a better way to explain these outrageous claims. That’s exactly saying the Romans (Italians) own all of Europe and the middle east or that Mr. G Khan owns all of China or that China claims all of Vietnam. I don’t understand how a so called middle kingdom is peaceful? China occupied Vietnam for millenia and they mine as well claim all of Vietnam too.

4. How can you arrest innocent Vietnamese fisherman and hold them for ransom? This is not peaceful, this is bullying. This is not innocent, this is cowboyish.

5. Stop saying Westerners weakened China. If it wasn’t for the British, Hong Kong would be a dump. If it isn’t for the US, Taiwan would be a dump. Both of these territories would not be where they are today. If it wasn’t for western counties, China would have no customers, very low GDP, little FDI, and no IP to steal from.

I have many more points to mention, but I find that a Chinese national will come back and start spitting out more outrageous claims.

The bully can push around the smaller, weaker ASEAN counties until they stand up and respond. And when this happens, China will play innocent once more and turn around bully some more.

August 29, 2010 at 15:21

@John Samford
“The US Navy is the best in the world. By a large margin. Stronger then ALL the other Navies in the world combined.”

No arguments there. However, I hope you do realize that it doesn’t even have to be stronger than ALL other navies combined. Most Navies in the region will be sailing as US allies if it comes to that.

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