These tensions are likely to persist. And Beijing is not alone in perpetuating them. Vietnam and the Philippines, concerned with the shifting balance of powers in the region, are pushing their maritime claims more aggressively and increasing their efforts to internationalise the question by involving both ASEAN and Washington.
Meidan is confident that the tension will not explode into outright conflict. China, she says, recognizes that the more it tries to assert its claims to the disputed waters, the more it pushes countries like the Philippines and Vietnam into the welcoming arms of Washington. This is a theme we’ve been highlighting for some time at Via Meadia; but we have also been quick to point out that the United States must be wary of becoming too closely involved in minor, bilateral spats.Meidan is similarly confident that Manila and Hanoi understand the folly of reckless confrontation with China. Still, with so many competing interests and no agreed framework to resolve these maritime disputes, the chances for miscalculation in the South China Sea remain dangerously high.