Georgetown Salon Series: A Tale of Two Seas

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The South China and East China Seas present flashpoints for maritime conflict, though the assembled experts at The Cipher Brief’s Georgetown Salon Series could not agree which was a more pressing issue for the United States. Retired Admiral John Greenert was joined by Greg Poling Director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at CSIS and Tim Heath, a senior researcher at RAND, for a discussion on China’s goals for the two seas and what is at stake for the U.S. and its regional allies.

China’s growing military capabilities have enabled it to expand its territorial claims in both seas. In the South China Sea, it has reclaimed over 3,000 acres of land masses and shoals in order to build military bases. In the East China Sea, China has increased the activity of military ships and aircraft that often enter the air and sea space of South Korea and Japan. China’s conflicting claims of sovereignty with other nations in the region, challenges the U.S. who has alliances with neighboring countries and is bound to upholding the international law of the sea.

The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” —Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62

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