Avoiding a Military Showdown in the South China Sea
In the coming weeks, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague is expected to rule on a challenge to China’s extensive maritime claims in the South China Sea. The court is unlikely to decide in Beijing’s favor. But China has already refused to participate, calling the process “illegal,” and has pre-emptively rejected the judgement of the court.
Tensions are rising in anticipation of the decision. Experts warn of potential military confrontations, triggered by a displeased China, an emboldened Philippines—which initially brought the case—or a frustrated U.S. conducting more freedom-of-navigation patrols near Chinese-held reefs.