Little Margin for Error in South China Sea Policy

President Donald Trump and his cabinet are now responsible for U.S. policy on one of Asia’s most contentious regions: The South China Sea. While China’s intentions to militarize the islands it claims have grown clearer—recent satellite imagery shows emplacements for anti-aircraft weaponry on the Spratly Islands— U.S. policy after the transition of power remains murky.

The secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson, said during his confirmation hearing that the United States is “…going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops, and second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.” Many thought the Secretary of State nominee misspoke, given the provocative implications.

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