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The Perception Gap on the “U-Shaped Line” in the South China Sea and China’s StrategicChoices

Published:2014-09-10 Published:2014-09-10   Author:Zhang Jie   [Small] [Middle] [Big] [More]

Much attention has been directed to the “U-shaped line” in the South China Sea dispute. Other claimants and some Western countries have gradually come to the same conclusion: that China’s claims based on historical rights and the “U-shaped line” to islands and reefs in the South China Sea and its adjacent waters violate international laws such as the UNCLOS. Moreover, in the eyes of those countries, China’s claims not only indicate its willingness to use its strength to change the status quo in the South China Sea, but also foreshadow an increasingly overconfident and assertive foreign policy. Therefore, China’s rise is something to be contained. In contrast to the attention paid to the “U-shaped line” outside of China, neither the Chinese scholarly discussion nor policy responsesprove to be adequate. Thus China should make adjustments to its “ambiguous strategy” on South China Sea, map out a more comprehensive maritime strategy, and coordinate the twin goals of “safeguarding rights” and “maintaining stability” in order to provide a favorable external environment for China’s rise.

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