The ineffectuality of the US in stopping China's island-building in the South China Sea : asymmetric interests of China and the US
Wong, Kayla Miaozhen
Date of Issue2018-02-08
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
The US policy to China has mostly been said by observers to be a failure. Despite Obama's 'rebalance to Asia' policy that saw the strengthening of military alliances with key military partners in the region, China has grown increasingly assertive, with Beijing hardening its stance and territorial claims in the South China Sea, as well as its continued expansion of its artificial islands and construction of fortifications. This then presents the interesting question of why has the US, despite its intentions to curb China's assertiveness and discourage it from pursuing its ambitions in the South China Sea, failed to do so. This paper looks at reasons from both the Chinese and American sides, and proposes that it is due to the asymmetric interests of both regional powers - namely domestic politics that has led the former to adopt a tough foreign policy toward the South China Sea, and a lack of strategic resolve for the latter in resorting to potentially detrimental militaristic means to resolve the issue - that has resulted in the US failing to stop China's island-building program. The timeline included in this paper that looks at specific US diplomatic or militaristic actions taken to discourage Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea, as well as the corresponding Chinese reaction, also establishes the extent of effectiveness of such American actions, and therefore helps to conclude that firm diplomacy, rather than pure flexing of military might through freedom-of-navigation patrols, has the potential to induce a relatively more cooperative attitude from Beijing.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Political science