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External Factors Threaten Stability in South China Sea

The situation in the South China Sea has taken a turn for the worse with the US-led militarization of the waters threatening to destroy peace and stability in the region.

The US and some of its allies from outside the region have staged military exercises in various forms in the South China Sea. Large combat platforms have appeared in the region more frequently than at any time since the end of the Cold War.

Multilateral security mechanisms against China have emerged one after another in the South China Sea. Since 2021, the United States, Japan, Australia, and some countries in the region have been keen to build a multilateral security architecture. The Quad, AUKUS and the similar security alliance of the US, Japan and the Republic of Korea all target China. The US and the Philippine navies carried out a joint patrol in the South China Sea in September. The US is trying to build a four-nation linkage mechanism comprising the Philippines, Japan, Australia and itself.

At the same time, emboldened by the US, unilateral actions by the claimant countries have intensified the contradictions between the countries with territorial disputes in the waters. They are attempting to break the status quo and consolidate and expand vested interests with the support of the US.

The US policy on the South China Sea is aimed at maintaining the US’ power presence and power superiority in the Asia-Pacific. The US is strengthening its military deployment and presence in the region with the help of allies so as to increase the cost of maintaining the regional stability that is conducive to China’s development. This has broken the status quo that has existed in the South China Sea since 2002. The contradictions and differences between the disputing countries are now taking on a “spiraling” upward trend. In addition, some countries lack sufficient political will and strategic autonomy, which makes crisis management and maritime cooperation mechanisms ineffective.

Removing interference from external factors is the only way to ensure lasting peace and stability in the South China Sea. The intervention of forces from outside the region will only make the contradictions more complicated and difficult to resolve. That undermines the mutual trust forged among countries in the region.

The disputing countries should abandon the old mentality of unilateralism and improve crisis management mechanisms at bilateral and multilateral levels on the basis of the consensus and principles set out in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

Source : China Daily