The U.S. and Japan May Literally Start a War over Rocks in the South China Sea

China’s increasingly truculent behavior in the East and South China Seas has generated apprehension over China’s intentions and deepened U.S. concerns, especially over freedom of navigation, land reclamation and the potential militarization of disputed features by China. Analysis has focused primarily on the law of the sea, the legitimacy of China’s expansive claims that are now being challenged by the Philippines in the Permanent Court of Arbitration (with a long-awaited decision expected on July 12), and much debate over U.S. policy and ASEAN’s response. However, little analysis has been devoted to the alliance security dilemma and how this influences the behavior of U.S. allies, Japan and the Philippines, in their disputes with China over the Senkaku Islands and the South China Sea respectively.

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