On May 19, The Straits Times published an article written by Xu Bu, China’s Ambassador to Asean, that criticises US involvement in the South China Sea ( “US ‘rebalancing’ is fishing in S. China Sea’s troubled waters”).
Ambassador Xu accused the United States of being the “driving force” behind increased tensions in the region, but his rhetoric is based on faulty assumptions and misinterpretations of the facts and the law.
Mr Xu suggests that after US secretary of state Hillary Clinton visited the region in 2009, the region “evolved into a disturbing… hot spot”, and that her visit encouraged states to change their policies to confront China.
But China’s problems in the South China Sea were created by conscious decisions in Beijing to insistently use coercion to advance its expansive and unlawful claims, alarming China’s neighbours. And the Philippines and Vietnam clarified their claims in the South China Sea not because of Mrs Clinton’s visit, but to comply with international law – something China might well consider for itself.