Forecast as of New Years Eve 2018 (What’s this?)
No. I pretty much put a litmus test out in the 90’s, which was if China could complete the Three Gorges Dam it was going to be a steamrolling superpower and I wouldn’t want to bet against it somehow eventually getting what it wants until I saw that steamroll significantly checked. Since I haven’t seen such a block of progress since – I’m not willing to bet against it on South China Sea. Additionally if you were to create a list of China-US diplomacy plotted on a continuum of easy to resolve to never-resolvable I think of this list as having items added or removed. And China is always going to want to remove the ones that are easier to resolve before working on the harder ones, and likewise for the US. So when President Obama was in office this list of US-China concerns might have included (among others) containing China with TPP, North Korea cooperation, South China Sea, Taiwan.
Well the public backlash against free trade mortally wounded TPP and President Trump put a bullet in it, so that’s off the table. Then President Trump added these trade wars which is kind of a gimmee. I think China will greatly enjoy focusing effort on tariffs and trade, followed a bit more reluctantly with North Korea cooperation and happily go about continuing to expand its South China Sea islands and threatening Taiwan. In other words by giving it an easy-dispute to work on, they’d rather focus on that than the harder ones for them.
I realize this analogy may make no sense…but it’s New Years Eve and this makes sense to me. 🙂
The South China Sea dispute continues, and the conditions preventing it’s resolution are still present. Impeached President Trump’s trade war with China continues into its second (or third?) year. And his rapprochement with North Korea fell apart. Kim Jong has resumed testing rockets and shorter range missiles and seems to be on a path as we speak of testing larger missiles again. I don’t think the South China Sea contest can be isolated from these two issues and resolved “independent” of some sort of resolution, or at least detente, on these.
Running Score: 3 out of 12