Short of War in the South China Sea

It’s been a busy year in these troubled waters.

|May 2, 2018

By Phillip Orchard

It’s been an awfully eventful year in the South China Sea – and it’s not even halfway over. In just the few first months of 2018, U.S., Japanese, Australian and Singaporean warships paraded their power around the waters by making several high-profile port visits to the Philippines and Vietnam. Meanwhile, in an uncustomarily overt show of military force, China launched a series of live-fire naval and air force exercises, including one involving at least 40 warships. In late March, the U.S. conducted a freedom of navigation operation, sailing a warship near a Chinese-controlled artificial island in disputed waters to discredit Beijing’s legal basis for its territorial claims. The same week, Chinese warplanes chased off Philippine surveillance aircraft monitoring developments in the disputed Spratly archipelago, even as the governments in Beijing and Manila were agreeing to jointly pursue and extract oil and natural gas in waters just off Philippine shore

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