LONDON, UK — To make a real breakthrough, Washington needs to synchronize its different strategies in the boiling waters of both the South China Sea and East China Sea.
The tension over territory disputes between China and neighboring countries has escalated in recent months. After the naval standoff with the Philippines around the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, China’s move to establish Sansha City on Woody Island in the Paracels chain sparked protests in Vietnam and drew concerns among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Meanwhile, triggered by Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s proposal to purchase disputed islands in the East China Sea, radical nationalists from China, Taiwan and Japan have repeatedly tried to land on islands to claim sovereignty, stirring regional stability.
The United States has taken different strategies dealing with the same opponent: China.
In the South China Sea, Washington has played a proactive role, encouraging countries claiming territories in the Paracel and Spratly island chains to return to the negotiating table in search of a peaceful resolution, while denouncing Beijing’s “divide and conquer” strategy that favors bilateral dialogues rather than a multilateral framework. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Indonesia earlier this week to urge Southeast Asian countries to present a unified front in dealing with Beijing.