What’s at Stake in the South China Sea?

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As the G20 summit in China came to a close, something far more worrisome than Air Force One’s stairway gaff overshadowed the summit. The Philippines announced that eleven Chinese dredging vessels and barges had been observed in the waters off of Scarborough Shoal. This, Manila suggested, is an indication China intends to commence land reclamation at the shoal as it has done in several other instances.

This is especially troubling given the shoal’s history at the center of regional tensions. In a meeting in March, President Barack Obama warned President Xi Jinping not to build on Scarborough Shoal, while Xi stated that he would continue to protect China’s sovereignty and maritime rights. The impasse, it seems, remains firmly entrenched.

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