America s Interest in South China Sea

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America’s Interest in South China Sea
The South China Sea forms the center of conflicts between China and the United States despite
its significant role in the world trade. It deserves the priority of experts who seek to undervalue
and seldom debate on its significance to the global economy. Researchers argue that as China
continues to transform as the fastest emerging economy, the South China Sea will pose a
challenge to the U.S leadership in the Asia-Pacific region (Hossain 127). It is the geographical
pivot of the global commerce industry. Regional economists estimate that nearly ninety percent
of commercial goods pass through the South China Sea en route to other continents. The United
States seeks to protect various interests regarding the South China Sea, which has generated
growing tension for many years. This paper explores the South China Sea dispute with a close
focus on the U.S interests.
The concerns of the United States concerning the South China Sea are two-fold: access and
stability. First, the greatest proportion of the world economic goods uses the South China Sea as
they gain entry into the Asian economies (McDevitt 177). Second, military economists argue that
the U.S Maritime power is vulnerable given the rapid transformation of the China’s technology
and economy. In fact, the disputed route is the base that the emerging economy utilizes to
challenge the U.S naval domination. This situation is likely to escalate and bring tension, which
threatens the vital sea lines of communication. The U.S remains as the chief guarantor of the
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world freedom of maritime navigation. As such, the U.S has the profound interest of ascertaining
that sea lines of communication remain open for business and peaceful military activities. The
United States acknowledges the rapid modernization of the China’s military poses an enormous
threat (DeLisle 630).
Given the declining numbers of the U.S naval military that stand at 284 (down from 600) and
China’s adoption of new technology, the United States is likely to lose the credible sea control of
the South China Sea Line Communications (SLOCs) (Hossain 127). China is likely to implement
anti-access and area-denial capabilities that will disrupt the propositions regarding the Indo-
Pacific region. Moreover, the United States is not a member of the ASEAN conflicts that revolve
around territorial claims based on their coastlines (McDevitt 181). For this reason, China fails to
accept any external intervention. This situation is the foundation of the growing tension between
the United States and China, which if unresolved can stir war.
Despite the enduring conflicts facing different nations, researchers emphasize the need to engage
in negotiations. Various reasons oblige conflicting countries to negotiate (McDevitt 187). One, it
indicates that the states are committed to the cooperative processes. Second, choosing not to
engage in war compels states to involve principled positions and political concerns of other
nations (Ba 272. Third, the two countries that strive to embrace political negotiations
demonstrate a mutual interest in better relations. The remarks of the Secretary of State, Hillary
Clinton, urges for multilateral solutions to the conflicts of the ASEAN stirred trouble among
most Chinese citizens (Hossain 127). The United States is party to the enduring conflicts
involving the ASEAN states that include maritime powers and territorial claims. In this regard,
China terms Clinton’s remarks as unreasonable and irrelevant. This situation has strained the U.S
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and the China relations. China’s interests in the troubled coastline include the control of the indo-
Pacific regional economy and protecting the off-shore oil fields.
Despite the long-lasting disputes involving conflicting economic and political interests between
the two powerful nations, none has employed military actions to change the situation affecting
the South China Sea (DeLisle 630). The countries that are party to the disputed territorial claims
and maritime control have existed peacefully. There are no reports of war regarding the regional
and economic conflicts since 2002. Therefore, the United States rationale in trying to alter the
approach to resolving the territorial claims lacks support. Most Chinese citizens interpreted the
U.S plan as an intention to replace Asia as a conscious strategy to the emerging China.
Research shows that the U.S prominence and influence has declined markedly following the rise
of China to its trade position in the Asian economy. In fact, China is the leading trade partner in
the Asian region (DeLisle 630). The U.S decline of influence has economic repercussions on its
position in the regional economy and foreign policy of the superpower. Hence, policy makers
might have come up with the multilateral approach to resolving the ASEAN territorial disputes.
Nonetheless, despite the rising tensions between the Chinese people and the U.S government,
numerous factors reduce the chance for war.
Several theories can explain the factors that result in war between states. Scholars assert that the
prevalence of international conflict is the basis of bargaining power. The global system will
always face disputes (McDevitt 177). The resolution of an individual conflict is the outcome of
the international bargaining power. Interstate level theories hold that war tends to break out when
a rising power threatens a declining regime in the overall position. From a statistical viewpoint,
some theorists focus on effects of democracy, government structure, trade, international
organization, and related variables in studying the advancement of inter-state disputes to war.
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A global perspective of international conflicts maintains that the outcome of a conflict is less likely
to stir up war. This position draws on the fact that the world has attained high levels of
technological development as well as norms of international relations. The complexity of the world
today renders war and the use of military force superseded. (Ba 272) Claims that in the advent of
globalization, which has revolutionized international relations, there is a decreasing isolation and
an increasing interdependency among nations. The authors add that war in this century can result
in devastating economic effects around the globe (McDevitt 179). Additionally, the sophistication
of modern military, including nuclear and biological weaponry is too powerful to use in modern
interstate conflicts.
Theorists advance conflicting interests regarding the possibility of the South China Sea causing a
war between the United States and China. The rising China’s economic and military power in the
region puts the United States at a probable risk of losing control in the ASEAN region. Despite
the conflicting interests regarding the South China Sea, possible explanations why the room for
war remains limited. First, the war over the South China Sea can disrupt sea lines of
communication and trade activities. Second, the growing transformation of China can suffer the
consequences of war. Additionally, there is a declining likelihood of conflict-based war because
the two nations have achieved high levels of modernization. As such, going to war can be
retrogressive. China has employed delayed mechanisms in claiming ownership of the South
China Sea and has not waged war regarding the long-standing ASEAN dispute. Any war
between the China military on the inside and the U.S military on the seaside can damage the
economic significance of the South China Sea.
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Works Cited
Ba, Alice D. "Staking Claims and Making Waves in the South China Sea: How Troubled are the
Waters?" Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International & Strategic
Affairs 33.3 (2011): 269-291. Print.
DeLisle, Jacques. "Troubled Waters: China's Claims and the South China Sea." Orbis 56. (2012):
608-642. Print.
McDevitt, Michael. "The South China Sea and U.S. Policy Options." American Foreign Policy
Interests 35.4 (2013): 175-187. Print.
Hossain, Kamrul. "The UNCLOS and the US-China Hegemonic Competition over the South
China Sea." Journal of East Asia & International Law 6.1 (2013): 107-133. Print.

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