Without incurring any international cost, China belligerently continues to push its borders far out into international waters in a way that no power has done before. Its modus operandi to extend its frontiers in the South China Sea — a global trade and maritime hub — involves creating artificial islands and claiming sovereignty over them and their surrounding waters.

In just a little over two years, it has built seven islands in its attempt to annex a strategically crucial corridor through which $5.3 trillion in trade flows every year. In fact, about half of the world’s annual merchant fleet tonnage passes through the South China Sea.

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