The US has increasingly urged China, Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines to keep calm in a region where maritime clashes have become a nearly daily threat since April.
The US has intense interest in Asian leaders working things out peacefully. Competing claims to islets or swaths of ocean could disrupt trade – or worse, cut off lanes used by American commercial shippers, as well as the US Navy.
Senior American officials have visited Asia twice this month alone, to the chagrin of China, urging calm in a region where maritime clashes have become a nearly daily threat since April.
“The United States will try to keep everyone in check, sending the message that ‘this is the line you don’t want to cross,' ” says Alex Chiang, associate professor of diplomacy at National Chengchi University in Taipei. “The United States doesn’t want to see China become more powerful and more influential in the region.”
Vessels from Japan, China, and Taiwan have squared off this month over eight uninhabited islets 137 miles from Taipei but controlled by Tokyo. The dispute has driven tens of thousands of Chinese to join anti-Japan demonstrations.