But one can’t deny that a storm is gathering against China’s revanchist maneuvers in the South China Sea. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has joined maritime patrols in the area, and the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces (JMSDF) could soon join the fray. The United States Navy is poised to conduct its second quarterly FON operations against China in the coming month, most likely targeting the Mischief Reef, which, similar to the Fiery Cross and Subi reefs, has been artificially augmented into an island with advanced military facilities and airstrips.
Like never before, the Xi administration is grappling not only with growing diplomatic pressure and legal backlash, but it is also confronting an American-led maritime coalition of the willing, with little interest in Chinese domination of one of the world’s most important SLOCs.
Richard Javad Heydarian is an Assistant Professor in international affairs and political science at De La Salle University, and previously served as a policy advisor at the Philippine House of Representatives. As a specialist on Asian geopolitics and economic affairs, he has written for or interviewed by Al Jazeera, Asia Times, BBC, Bloomberg, Foreign Affairs, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, The Diplomat, The Financial Times, and USA TODAY, among other leading international publications. He is the author of Asia’s New Battlefield: US, China, and the Struggle for Western Pacific (Zed, London). You can follow him on Twitter: @Richeydarian.
Image: Flickr/Naval Surface Warriors