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China, The United States, and the Future of Southeast AsiaU.S.-China Relations, Volume II$
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David B.H. Denoon

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781479866304

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479866304.001.0001

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U.S. Policy Options in the South China Sea

U.S. Policy Options in the South China Sea

(p.389) 14 U.S. Policy Options in the South China Sea
China, The United States, and the Future of Southeast Asia

Michael McDevitt

NYU Press

This chapter proposes additional policy options that the United States might pursue in the South China Sea. It recounts existing U.S. policy toward the South China Sea and finds that it is comprehensive, sensible, and well balanced. It focuses on creating stability by exhorting all parties to follow international law; it explicitly defines conflict solving; and it includes U.S. hard-power demonstrations as well as initiatives aimed at redressing some of the power imbalance between the Philippines, Vietnam, and China. It also incorporates deterrence by not ignoring America’s security alliance with the Philippines as well as providing for U.S. naval and air access. The chapter concludes by recommending several additional policy approaches while acknowledging the difficulty of getting Beijing to pay serious attention to U.S. objections to what Washington has called its “bullying” approach. Along the way it addresses what U.S. interests are involved in the South China Sea and makes the point that U.S. policy toward the South China Sea and China must be kept in perspective. The overall Sino-U.S. relationship is global in nature and involves many U.S. interests in which Beijing’s cooperation is necessary.

Keywords:   Spratly Islands, South China Sea, EEZ, freedom of navigation, deterrence, UNCLOS

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