Dr. Alex Vuving’s most recent article for Nikkei Asia comments on the latest activity in the South China Sea.

China has been involved in various incidents claiming territory in the South China Sea that falls within the exclusive economic zones of neighboring countries like the Philippines and Vietnam. In August, China called for the Philippines to remove the BRP Sierra Madre, a grounded naval vessel, from Second Thomas Shoal, a submerged reef located within the Philippine exclusive economic zone. The China Coast Guard ship fired water cannons to turn away Philippine boats on a resupply mission. These actions have sparked tensions and disputes.

In his article, Vuving underscores the importance of defending international law and resisting challenges to maintain the current rules-based international order. According to Vuving, failure to do so could result in a Beijing-centric order supplanting established international conventions, particularly in regions like the South China Sea.

Says Vuving, “If countries capitulate to China’s unlawful demands, a Beijing-centric hierarchical order will replace the UNCLOS. The way for countries to defend the law is to push back against challenges and assert their lawful rights.”

Alexander L. Vuving is a professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI APCSS) in Honolulu. The views expressed are those of the author alone and do not represent the official policy of the DKI APCSS, the U.S. Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.