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Xinhua: U.S. Adopts Ambiguous Diplomacy in South China Sea Conflict

A June 30, 2011, Xinhua article characterizes the U.S. strategy in the conflict in the South China Sea sovereignty issue as “Ambiguous Diplomacy,” in which the U.S. government publicly portrays itself as a “neutral mediator,” while behind the scenes, it assists the smaller Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam. 

The article quoted Zhang Guoqing, a scholar of international affairs at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who said, “This kind of two-faced tactic is to maintain the ‘balance of power’ in the South China Sea, i.e., to prevent any country from taking a dominant position so that the U.S. can maximize its own interests.” Zhang said, “Currently, due to domestic economic issues, the U.S. has kept a low profile in foreign relations and the military, but it has not given up keeping its lead role around the globe. Therefore, it needs to create some conflicts now and then. Maintaining a certain level of tension can give the U.S. the initiative to become a mediator, and provide the U.S. with excuses and opportunities to return to Asia.” 
Zhang listed three U.S. motives to get involved in the South China Sea conflict for its own interests: “firstly, to disrupt the economic cooperation between China and ASEAN nations, weakening China’s influence in the region; secondly, by keeping a certain level of tension, to increase arms trade with Southeast countries and make money; lastly, to expand cooperation with relevant countries on oil and gas exploration, and keep an advantageous position in the fight for the resources in the region.”
Source: Xinhua, June 30, 2011