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Escalation of Sino-US Tension Hurts Southeast Asian Coastal States

A U.S. pledge to keep sailing navy vessels through the disputed South China Sea, which Beijing calls its own, could spark a military escalation that may hurt the interests of Southeast Asian states, analysts say. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said on May 29 the United States will continue sending ships near the sea’s contested islands. China, the dominant military force in the 3.5 million-square-kilometer sea, considers the U.S. maneuvers interference in Chinese waters. Scholars say China has landed a bomber and deployed missiles to islets under its control largely because of the U.S. ship movement. Five other Asian governments claim all or parts of the sea and bristle at China’s militarization. At the same time, most hope to build trade and investment links with Beijing. “Currently so far it’s a so-called new normal,” Lin Chong-pin, retired strategic studies professor in Taiwan, said of the U.S. ship movement. For the other...

 

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