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Jane Perlez of the New York Times has a good piece on the gathering storm in the South China Sea. Perlez is one of the best foreign correspondents at the Times, and her coverage of the region is usually well ahead of that of her peers. Her latest effort references a grim report by the International Crisis Group that suggests the chances for conflict are rising sharply:

“All of the trends are in the wrong direction, and prospects of resolution are diminishing,” said the report, titled “Stirring Up the South China Sea: Regional Responses.”

The pessimistic conclusion came a day after China stepped up its political and military control of the Paracel and Spratly Islands, which both Vietnam and the Philippines claim, and the Macclesfield Bank, claimed by the Philippines. The islands are known in Chinese as Xisha, Nansha and Zhongsha.

On Monday, the Philippine president, Benigno S. Aquino III, announced plans to buy aircraft, including attack helicopters, that could be used in territorial disputes in the South China Sea. China and the Philippines have competing claims there over the Scarborough Shoal and potentially energy-rich underwater ground around Reed Bank, among other areas.

The South China Sea in particular, and Asia-Pacific in general, will be a giant test for American diplomacy. It is slowly dawning on the Eurocentric, Atlantic-focused foreign policy elite just how fast things are moving in Asia. Writers like Perlez are trying to speed up the process. Via Meadia wishes her every success.

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  • Luke Lea

    First China has to build a navy. Have they yet?

  • Kris

    Is the US willing to allow China to dominate the region by intimidating or defeating its neighbors in detail? Is the US willing to risk war with China to prevent the above? Foggy Bottom should earn its keep by ensuring the chips stay up, but have US leaders prepared for a possible 3 AM call?

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