A war with China would be a catastrophe. Yet as this segment of What’s Ahead warns, China’s strongman, Xi Jinping, continues provocative acts that could lead to unwanted hostilities. Xi’s naval forces have been increasingly aggressive in asserting China’s control over the South China Sea, a critical international sea lane. One-third of the world’s maritime shipping passes through it each year.
Beijing’s latest act of bullying was in placing a floating barrier near the Scarborough Shoal—an area of intermittent flare-ups over sovereignty—to block Filipino fishing boats from fishing in what they claim as Filipino territory and in international waters that China illegally claims as its own. The Philippines coast guard removed the barrier. Only the presence of international journalists with the Filipinos stayed a violent Chinese reaction.
Freedom of the seas has been a bedrock principle of American security for more than 200 years. By challenging this principle, Beijing is playing with fire.