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Strategic Adjustment and the Rise of ChinaPower and Politics in East Asia$
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Robert S. Ross

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781501709180

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501709180.001.0001

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Threading the Needle

Threading the Needle

The South China Sea Disputes and U.S.-China Relations

(p.233) Chapter 8 Threading the Needle
Strategic Adjustment and the Rise of China

M. Taylor Fravel

Cornell University Press

This chapter studies the U.S. management of its alliance dilemma in the context of its allies' maritime territorial disputes with China over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. It shows that the challenge for the United States has been to respond to China's more active defense of its territorial sovereignty by reassuring its allies of its defense commitments without encouraging its allies to escalate the conflict and entrap the United States in heightened conflict with China, and thus undermine U.S. interests in regional stability and U.S.–China cooperation. This has been especially challenging in U.S.–Philippines relations. The 2012 Sino-Philippine confrontation in the Scarborough Shoal, and China's land reclamation on Chinese-occupied features also claimed by the Philippines in 2014–15, elicited heightened U.S. support for Philippine security.

Keywords:   United States, alliance dilemma, maritime territorial disputes, China, Philippines, Spratly Islands, U.S.–Philippine relations

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