chapter  Four
28 Pages

The US in the South China Sea

BySarah Raine, Christian Le Miére

The US has been slowly and carefully developing a defence dialogue with Vietnam, perhaps the most vocal Southeast Asian protagonist in the South China Sea. The administration of President Barack Obama sharpened and upgraded this thinking in the deliberate promotion of the US as an Asia-Pacific power. In late 2011, the Obama administration announced its Asia 'pivot' which was quickly relabelled a 'rebalance' in many quarters concerned about insinuations of a schizophrenic superpower. As issues such as the impact of China's naval modernisation, or the future of the US forward-deployed presence in the region and the balance of power in Asia are debated, so the South China Sea becomes a natural focal point for attention. Within Southeast Asia, the US has treaty alliances with the Philippines and Thailand, as well as important security partnerships with other countries including Singapore and Indonesia.