The South China Sea is one of the world’s most important waterways and carries a large portion (approximately one-third) of global maritime tonnage across its sea lanes. It’s also an area of intense international rivalry that involves at least eight nations. The risk of military conflict in the South China Sea has risen significantly in the 21st century.

Again this year the Arizona Senior Academy is hosting the Foreign Policy Association’s “Great Decisions” series, and the session on Wednesday (Feb. 22), will focus primarily on the history of the varying claims in the South China Sea, the significant issues involved, current tensions, and possible outcomes.

The discussion will be held at 3:00 p.m. in the ASA Great Room. The facilitator for this session is Donald Gilzinger Jr., an ASA member and a resident of the Academy Village.

Beijing’s interest has intensified disputes with other countries in the region in recent years, especially since China has increased its naval presence. Despite rising international pressure, including an unfavorable ruling by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, China staunchly defends its policies in the region. Preventing tensions from boiling over is a matter of careful diplomacy.

Disputed jurisdictional claims to the South China Sea involve rights to exploit the region’s possibly extensive reserves of oil and gas.

China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines all have competing territorial and jurisdictional claims to the South China Sea, particularly over rights to exploit the region’s possibly extensive reserves of oil and gas. Although the United States takes no official position on sovereignty claims in the area, it is deeply interested in maintaining maritime security and upholding freedom of navigation.

Designed to elicit constructive ideas from those who attend, the 2017 series focuses on the theme “Continuity and Change in American Foreign Policy,” a theme especially relevant in this year of presidential transition.

Written by Donald Gilzinger Jr., Academy Village Volunteer



China’s growing assertiveness, have fueled concerns over armed conflict and raised questions about

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Avoiding Conflict in the South China Sea: February 2016