Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Deterring China in the “Gray Zone”: Lessons of the South China Sea for U.S. Alliances

Deterring China in the “Gray Zone”: Lessons of the South China Sea for U.S. Alliances

Abstract

If facing down a hostile actor in the “gray zone” is hard for a single actor, such as the United States, it is doubly hard for an alliance composed of actors with disparate capabilities, interests, and political fortitude. This article investigates how China has prosecuted gray-zone strategy in the South China Sea. We discern patterns in Chinese policy and strategy with the aim of helping U.S. led alliances face down aggression in maritime Asia.

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