Game of chicken in South China Sea

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Game of chicken in South China Sea

The dispute in the South China Sea stems from China’s challenge to America’s role as the sole superpower, as Beijing wants to reshape the international order through the troubled sea.

China has sharpened the conflict by building military bases in the Spratly Islands and other islets, claiming historical rights to them.

Despite the Philippines, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and many other countries wanting to share the waters, China intends to interfere with navigation as well as their rights to fish and drill for oil and gas.

A Chinese official even said that China will ignore the decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration over the South China Sea that calls for a settlement with the Philippines through bilateral negotiations.

As many countries are related to this territorial conflict, settlements between only two countries can hardly solve it. The reason why the Philippines refuses to end this conflict by having bilateral talks with China also stems from this concern. Benigno Aquino, the president of the Philippines, expressed concerns about bilateral negotiations, saying, “How does an agreement of two entities bind the other four?”
If China really wants to finish this dispute, they should change their stance and participate in a multilateral platform. Due to China’s

ambition to boost its international status, the South China Sea has become a powder keg. China’s provocative moves against peace could trigger an arms race in the region.

But China is heightening tensions by playing a game of chicken. If Beijing really wants to prove it is a mature country, it is better to do so by showing wisdom instead of creating conflicts in the sea.

*Student at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

Kim Min-young
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