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Aircraft Carrier Liaoning CV-16.jpg
PLANS Liaoning (CV-16) in Hong Kong.

Tried to pull together my thoughts and my frustrations on how we talk about the South China Sea…

Official statements notwithstanding, the South China Sea is a stalking horse for broader U.S. concerns over the rise of Chinese military and economic power. The installations that China has built across the region are of negligible economic value to the United States. They offer little real threat to global maritime trade patterns; even in case of war, merchant vessels could simply move farther into the Pacific, with little long-term economic disruption. They do not represent claims on core populated areas of the United States or its allies; indeed, U.S. regional allies periodically maintain claims to the South China Sea that are just as legally troubling as those of China. The United States has no substantial resource investments in the area (although it could potentially support the investments of regional players). Their direct military value is questionable. China does not need to control islands in the South China Sea in order to devastate shipping in the area. It has enough surveillance assets, long-range missiles, and long-range aircraft to push commercial shipping beyond the second island chain.

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