Why South China Sea Matters
It is not China's sea, Indians have sailed its water for centuries. Delhi has stakes in commerce, peace and security in Indo-Pacific, it must now play the long game.
The Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s perceptive essay in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs cogently spells out the dilemma that confronts Singapore, and indeed the rest of us in the Indo-Pacific, as the two most consequential powers of the world, the United States, which PM Lee calls the “resident power”, and China, which he says is “the reality on the doorstep”, are engaged in a fundamental transformation of their relationship. Almost nobody any longer thinks that China will conform to the US worldview, or that China’s rise from hereon will be unchallenged.
The Indo-Pacific has prospered under American hegemony for the previous 40 years not just because of their huge investments — $328.8 billion in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) alone and a further $107 billion in China — but also because of the security blanket that it provides. China might have replaced the US as the primary engine of growth in the last decade, but it has come with a cost — the assertion of Chinese power.