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China's Perspectives on the Major Island Disputes in the East and South China Seas: Implications for the US's Strategic Rebalance toward Asia

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Technical Report

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Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States

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Although Chinas economic rise has benefited the Asia Pacific region, its military rise has been a concern among its neighbors. The US in 2009 has decided to shift its strategic focus toward Asia so as to continue to maintain its influence in the region and secure its interests. The USs intention is to engage China to strengthen the regional security and prosperity. However, the USs effort in Asia could become counter-productive as its stronger presence could also embolden some regional countries to aggravate their island disputes with China. The escalation in tensions over the disputed islands between China and the regional countries could, in the worst case, drag the US to confront China, and affect the overall security and prosperity of the region.This research paper strongly suggests that the US pivot to Asia strategy must adopt a fine balancing act to prevent the US from being dragged into a direct confrontation with China over those disputed islands in the East China and South China Seas.

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