The confrontation has implications for the rest of Asia, and the United States.
For Mark J. Valencia's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
After setbacks, the U.S. is making progress in its diplomatic struggle with China.
Australia, Japan and India are unlikely to risk antagonizing China by joining U.S. freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.
Rather than fight a long term losing battle at the expense of Southeast Asian nations as well as that of peace and stability in the South China Sea, the U.S. should be proactive, accept reality and share power with China in its own backyard.
There are no "innocents" in the South China Sea — only degrees of rationalization.
The Trump administration's policy regarding the South China Sea is a continuation of the Obama administration's policy but with more emphasis on the military dimension.
For those nations that believed in and depended on the U.S. to defend them and their shared principles, Trump has kicked off a whole new ball game fraught with uncertainty.
It's time for a bold approach of addressing North Korea's genuine fears in return for a freeze of its nuclear weapons and missile development programs.
Analysts trying to parse U.S. policy in the Trump era regarding the South China Sea must be prepared for stark contradictions and intellectual whiplash.
Statements being made by American officials overestimate U.S. power and resolve, and underestimate those of China. That is how wars start.