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Outlook Weekly: South China Sea Dispute Will Likely be a Long-Term Problem

According to an article in Outlook Weekly written by Li Zheng of the Institute of American Studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, China faces at least three important challenges in the South China Sea dispute. “The first important test is how to handle neighboring small countries. In reference to the South China Sea issue, Vietnam has the most intense conflict with China, followed by the Philippines and Malaysia. … The second test is how China will comply with international law and fulfill its international obligations. … The third important test is how China will co-exist with the United States in Southeast Asia and engage in healthy strategic competition. … The United States has intervened in the South China Sea dispute, directly targeting the ASEAN, not China. Therefore, there is no direct conflict with the United States, but there are competing interests.

“If China can successfully deal with these challenges, the South China Sea will become a powerful example of China’s peaceful rise. However, if it is the opposite, China will spend a lot of national power on the South China Sea dispute, eroding China’s international reputation and enhancing anti-Chinese sentiment in the neighboring countries. The dispute could become a ‘long-term problem,’ or even a ‘power trap.

Source: Outlook Weekly, July 26, 2011