I. The Big Stories
1) The US’s “New Approach” to the South China Sea?
The United States’ Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, in his latest speech, unveiled the country’s “new position” for the South China Sea (SCS) dispute this week. It was followed by the assistant Secretary of State, David Stilwell’s, elaborate explanation during his remarks at CSIS’s annual South China Sea conference.
Has the US’s approach radically changed from the past? What are the differences? What does this mean in reality? How has the People’s Republic of China (PRC) reacted? And how are the regional actors responding to this?
I will try to address these questions in the first section of this newsletter. For in-depth analysis, you could read the upcoming issue EYE on China, a weekly newsletter by my Takshashila colleague, Manoj Kewalramani, which is published every Sunday.
According to Pompeo’s statement, Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the SCS region are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them. “Beijing uses intimidation to undermine the sovereign rights of Southeast Asian coastal states in the South China Sea, bully them out of offshore resources, assert unilateral dominion, and replace international law with might makes right (approach).”
Important pointers from his statement: