Preserving Freedom of Navigation in the South China Sea and the Strategic Significance of the Philippines to U.S. Maritime Strategy   [open pdf - 2MB]

From the thesis abstract: "The People's Republic of China (PRC) policies on the South China Sea (SCS) have created an environment of uncertainty and an area for miscalculation of military forces. This research will discuss the legal basis of Freedom of Navigation, the PRC's interpretation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, their territorial claims in the Spratly Islands, and its impact on U.S. national security. The goal of this thesis is to identify and propose ways the Republic of the Philippines (RP) would be instrumental in phase-shaping, deterrence, and support of the U.S. SEVENTH Fleet during contingency operations in the region. The conflict in the SCS will not be resolved anytime soon. China opposes any form of international arbitration and its strategy consists of maintaining the Nine-Dash Line status quo, slowly increasing its naval presence and making small advances to build on its excessive claims. The rise of China's navy, its policies on the SCS and the U.S. stance on freedom of the seas in the global commons will clearly impact future military interactions. The increasing likelihood of direct engagement against U.S. forces and its treaty ally based on tactical miscalculation is a serious cause for concern; re-examining U.S. policy on the SCS and the U.S.-RP partnership-building strategy is necessary."

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