BEIJING -- Debates are going on the two sides of the Pacific, in China and in the U.S., about the future world order. On the part of the U.S. the core issue is how to maintain its world dominance. Out of its natural fear of the traditional model of power transition, the U.S. is deeply concerned whether it can remain strong and whether the newly rising powers will compete for world dominance with the U.S.. So some suggest that the U.S. may need a new grand strategy.
When I was learning to fly, one of the lessons was that if you see an object on the horizon that is seemingly stationary but getting larger, watch out. It is probably an aircraft closing with you. Trouble with China in the South China Sea is on the horizon of U.S strategic concerns and getting larger. A major confrontation may be at hand.
President Barack Obama sent the Navy in harm's way this week and it turned out fine. Having gotten what it's going to get, at least for now, from China, the Obama administration at last challenged China's absurd claim of sovereignty over far distant artificial islands it's built in the South China Sea.
Ultimately, it may take a crisis for the U.S.-China relationship to reach a stable equilibrium. But in the current context, I believe the doom-laden scenario of a U.S.-China naval clash in the South China Sea to be remote. The greater risk is that China will use U.S. FoN operations to justify an overtly military phase to the island construction project.