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South China Sea conflict generates uncertainty and insecurity

Commentary: Claims by China and Taiwan have no basis in international accords.
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Chinese boats patrol the Paracel chain, part of the disputed territory in the South China Sea. China established a new military garrison this July to protect the island, but their claim has no basis in international accords. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS — A recent article in the East Asia Forum remarked that the uncertainty and insecurity generated by China’s claims in the South China Sea are reflected in headlines throughout Southeast Asia, even though the claims have no solid legal basis in international law.
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What should the US do in the South China Sea?

Commentary: The US could lose credibility over a dispute among China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan in the South China Sea.
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Aerial view from 1995 of a Vietnamese garrison on one of the Spratly Islands. China and Southeast Asian nations have disputed sovereignty over the largely-uninhabited islands since the 1960s. (FILM) (Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images)
They are mostly just tiny specks of uninhabited rock, although a few have settlements, spread out over 772,000 miles of the South China Sea. They bear the names given to them by European cartographers, Spratly, Paracel, and Scarborough Shoal, although the neighboring Asian countries all have their own names for them. They are the most hotly contested islands on earth, and this summer the international heat has been rising with potential problems for the United States.
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Why all the fuss in the South China Sea?

It all comes down to money and power, says Andrew Billo, senior program officer with the Asia Society.
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Chinese paramilitary guards watch as China National Offshore Oil Corp, May 21, 2012. (AFP/Getty Images)

After the disparate nations that make up the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) failed to agree on a roadmap to resolution on the South China Sea, China went ahead and — shockingly — did its own thing.

It established a brand new city in the region.

For some time, China has claimed the islands in the South China Sea and the surrounding waters as Chinese territory. It says that historical findings in the area, namely pottery shards and some old maps, mean the entire region belongs to China, full-stop. 

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Leon Panetta: US Navy to move most warships to Asia by 2020

Leon Panetta insists that the increased US military presence is not designed to contain China's growing dominance in the region, saying that on contrary Washington hopes to "build trust" with Beijing.

Standoff in South China Sea (Q&A with Asia Society's Andrew Billo)

HONG KONG – Far from cooling down, the standoff between China and the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal – a handful of rocks in the South China Sea – has risen to a boil. China has slapped extra inspections on imported Philippine fruit. The Philippines is organizing global protests against Chinese bullying. Bloggers on Sina Weibo are urging Beijing to boycott the Philippines — or go to war. What's next?

China in trouble in international waters, again

BEIJING — This year, tensions continually rose between China and the neighbors with which it shares international waters — including Vietnam, the Philippines and South Korea.

Opinion: Rocky times ahead in South China Sea

BEIJING — Grand rhetorical gestures are not enough. Countries must match words with action.

Vietnam flexes muscle in the South China Sea

HANOI — Experts say out-and-out war isn't in Vietnam or China's interest, but more clashes between the two are almost certainly on the horizon.

South China Sea: China vs. Vietnam

BEIJING — Yet the name issue only skims the surface of serious tension over the past few weeks between China and its neighbors, and potentially, the United States.
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