A U.S. official summed up the tensions in a comment to The Nelson Report’s Chris Nelson: “What we need to think our way through is how China’s salami-slicing tactics (and they will continue whether with an ADIZ in the [South China Sea] or elsewhere) will play against U.S. credibility.
“If all we have are diplomatic response[s] when China is creating new facts on the ground/in the sea/air, this will continue to erode U.S. credibility with allies and partners; and, if, God forbid, we fail to honor alliance commitments, especially on the Senkakus, we soon will have no allies/partners/standing in the region.”
Our cooperation, frankly, on issues of enormous importance in the world should not go unnoticed. China and the United States are cooperating on big-ticket items. We’ve worked together in the P5+1 on Iran. We’ve worked together on Afghanistan. We have worked together on Syria. We are working together on other issues like South Sudan and the prevention of violence there. And we appreciate enormously the Chinese efforts with respect to those kinds of initiatives. Not many people know that that kind of cooperative effort is underway.
And the Chinese have made clear that they believe they need to be resolved in a peaceful and legal manner, and that they need to be resolved according to international law and that process.
And I think they believe they have a strong claim, a claim based on history and based on fact. They’re prepared to submit it, and – but I think they complained about some of the provocations that they feel others are engaged in. And that is why I’ve said all parties need to refrain from that. Particularly with respect to some of the islands and shoals, they feel there have been very specific actions taken in order to sort of push the issue of sovereignty on the sea itself or by creating some construction or other kinds of things.
So the bottom line is there was a very specific statement with respect to the importance of rule of law in resolving this and the importance of legal standards and precedent and history being taken into account to appropriately make judgments about it.