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When China ratified the United Nations law of the sea treaty in 1996, it was hailed as an important step toward stability and peaceful settlement of disputes in East Asia’s vast, valuable but conflict-riven offshore zone.

So the recent move by the Philippines to turn to the U.N. for a ruling on whether China’s sweeping claims to ownership and control over nearly all of the South China Sea in the maritime heart of Southeast Asia is in line with the 1982 treaty seemed like a perfectly law-abiding step.

But China’s Xinhua news agency said the Philippines’ referring the issue to a U.N.…  Seguir leyendo »

This month’s maritime standoff between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea isn’t the first time the region’s navies have gone toe-to-toe. But while past tensions revolved around resources under the ocean floor, this most recent event is part of a growing strategic rivalry pitting Chinese power against the United States and its East Asian allies. How Washington responds may determine the prospects for continued peace in the Pacific.

The latest crisis arose after the pocket-size Philippine Navy, with an old United States Coast Guard cutter as its new flagship, tried to apprehend Chinese fishermen it claimed were operating illegally near the Scarborough Shoal.…  Seguir leyendo »