The U.S. should help alleviate tensions in the South China Sea to head off a possible military clash between China and various Southeast Asian nations, Bonnie S. Glasser, a former U.S. Defense and State Department consultant , said in a report issued Tuesday by the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations.
“The disputes between China and rival claimants Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan could provoke conflict in the region,” Glasser wrote in a contingency planning memorandum. “In 2013, China declared an air-defense identification zone (ADIZ), claiming it can intercept unidentified aircraft over the East China Sea; its efforts to create artificial islands suggest its intention to do the same over the South China Sea. The rusted-out ship that houses a contingent of Philippine Marines is crumbling – once it slides into the sea, a decision by Beijing to seize the Second Thomas Shoal could spark another confrontation with the Philippines and potentially draw in the United States. And if China decides to drill inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone, as it did in 2014, the two countries could clash militarily. These contingencies could test U.S.-China relations.”Read more