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Managing the Complex Maritime Disputes That Divide China and the US

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Amidst the volatility between China and the U.S., Taiwan stands as a pivotal concern, but the maritime arena follows closely. American leaders aim to "manage" relations with China, safeguarding the rules-based order and the credibility of alliances.

They seek military dialogue and arms control with Beijing. Conversely, Chinese leaders want resolutions on contentious issues, notably Taiwan, viewing crisis management as enabling U.S. dismissal of sovereignty demands.

The maritime sphere poses significant risks; reports highlight Chinese Coast Guard and Maritime Militia bullying in disputes over fishing and seabed exploration, fueling crises like confrontations around Second Thomas Shoal. Aggressive behavior, evident in non-military Chinese assets, and excessive claims in the South China Sea, per the Hague ruling, prompt tensions inflated by Western media.



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Addressing "white hull" tensions requires strengthened linkages, like a robust South Pacific Coast Guard Forum, rekindling the once-cooperative relationship between U.S. Coast Guard and CCG. Yet, deeper change is needed. Beijing must enhance military transparency, curbing unsafe sea and air intercepts, and reassure neighbors. Washington should reconsider extensive surveillance along China's coasts, deeming it costly, provocative, and unnecessary.

For lasting Pacific peace, 21st-century engagement between U.S. and Chinese naval forces is vital. They must jointly explore boundaries in emerging AI systems, like unmanned underwater vehicles, as both nations teeter on deploying robotic submarines, a potential flashpoint in their rivalry.

Source: The Diplomat