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The South China Sea: US Foreign Policy Challenges and Geo-Political Impacts

  • NYUSPS Center for Global Affairs 15 Barclay Street New York, NY, 10007 United States (map)

Conflict in the The South China Sea has become one of the most significant geopolitical concerns of the 21 century. It is estimated that that $5.3 trillion worth of goods moves through the South China Sea annually, 1.2 trillion of which is with the US. Around forty percent of global liquefied natural gas trade moves through the South China Sea. Any military conflict there would cripple critical global supply chains. In recent years, China has undertaken efforts to reclaim thousands of square feet in the South China Sea. Its construction of artificial islands and infrastructure such as  runways, support buildings, loading piers, and possible satellite communication antennas has prompted its neighbors and the US to question China’s motives. The US Navy sends ships into the South China Sea to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, where Chinese, Japanese, and some Southeast Asian navies operate. The slightest miscalculation could have dire consequences not just for Sino-US relations but also have implications for the region.

Can there be a “win win” situation in the South China Sea? What are China’s ultimate objectives? What should the US’s strategic goals be? How should the US and other countries within the region avoid conflict and instead foster a greater sense of trust and enhance cooperation in the South China Sea?

Moderator: Earl Carr, Adjunct Instructor, NYUSPS Center for Global Affairs; Managing Director, Momentum Advisors


Kimball Chen, Chairman, The Global LPG Partnership; Chairman, Energy Transportation Group, Inc.

Rorry Daniels, Deputy Project Director, Forum on Asia-Pacific Security, National Committee on American Foreign Policy

Brigadier General S. Clinton Hinote, Deputy Director, Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability; Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force

Li Qingsi, Professor for International Relations, School of International Studies, Renmin University

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  • NYUSPS Center for Global Affairs