Issue Brief on “The China-US Escalating Tension in the South China Sea”


China-US rivalry has been escalating in the South China Sea with each passing day. On 19 December 2016, China seized a US drone submarine, an unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV), in the South China Sea, triggering a controversy between the two powerful nations. The UUV has the capability to carry weapons and censors. The submarine could advance US underwater activities against China.

The question precisely arises as to what was the mission of the submarine while the purpose was not to resort to escalation? Was the submarine on a intelligence-gathering mission about Chinese military assets in the South China Sea? Or, was it a mere collision at the high seas or a deliberate attempt to provoke China?

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