News analysis

US stance on South China Sea may pave way for stronger responses

It could also spur S-E Asian states to stand up to China over rival claims in contested waters

A file photo from 2016 showing a Chinese coast guard ship near Scarborough Shoal, a reef in the South China Sea that is claimed by both China and the Philippines.
A file photo from 2016 showing a Chinese coast guard ship near Scarborough Shoal, a reef in the South China Sea that is claimed by both China and the Philippines.PHOTO: NYTIMES

The United States' policy shift on China's claims in the South China Sea - rejecting them as illegal under international law - may pave the way for more forceful responses from Washington over Chinese maritime activities in the contested waters, said analysts.

America's strong stance on the issue could also encourage South-east Asian claimant countries to stand up to China, although there are limits to doing so, the analysts added.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2020, with the headline 'US stance on S. China Sea may pave way for stronger responses'. Subscribe