BEIJING, Nov 14 (ChinaMil) -- U.S. President Donald Trump's recent tour of Asia attracted close attention in the international community.
China and ASEAN are making united efforts to properly deal with the South China Sea issue, and China has maintained sound bilateral relations with Vietnam and the Philippines.
In comparison, the U.S., a country outside the South China Sea region, has much less control over the situation and seems powerless in many aspects.
Some observers said that the U.S. "has lost it" in the South China Sea. Is it true?
First, the U.S. won't retreat from the South China Sea easily.
Unlike the Obama administration, which took the South China Sea as an important pivot of its Asia-Pacific Rebalancing strategy, the Trump government is less focused on that region partly because of its "American Priority" strategy and partly because of the shift in international hotspots as the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and Iran nuclear issue are high on the agenda of the Oval Office.
This reflects the inclination of America's new decision makers in strategic thinking and direction, but it doesn't mean America will easily give up the power it has established in Southeast Asia over long period, particularly if that power will be taken over by China.
The Trump administration recently put forth the ambitious "Indian Ocean-Pacific Ocean" concept, which is like an extended version of the previous "Asia-Pacific Rebalancing" strategy and a test before the formal presentation of the "Indo-Pacific Strategy".
Known as the Mediterranean Sea in Asia, the South China Sea is a critical juncture that connects the Indian Ocean with the Pacific Ocean and is like a stronghold on the Indo-Pacific geopolitical chessboard.
How could the U.S. lose the influence or control of this region if it is to promote a new Asian strategy? This is evidenced by the American military's enhanced operations for the so-called "freedom of navigation" in the South China Sea.
Second, America's ability to maneuver in the geopolitical game is clear to all.
It may have lost some control in the South China Sea region, but we should in no way underestimate its ability of strategic self-reflection and self-recovery. There are many pertinent examples since the WWII that we can refer to and draw on.
The Obama government pursued the "deft power" strategy and hyped up the South China Sea disputes to "consume" China. It thought that was a clever move, but out-smarted itself and paid a price for its strategic and tactical stubbornness and arrogance.
The White House today implemented "strategic contraction" and prioritized solving issues at home. Isn't that an American version of "hiding and recovering its capabilities and biding its time"? When America has recovered, it's possible that it will come back to the South China Sea and make bigger waves.
At last, the U.S. has a "kozai" in the South China Sea that it can use for a long time.
The South China Sea disputes are complicated, and the assertions of relevant claimants have structural conflicts, so it's unrealistic to thoroughly solve the issue in the short term. It's bound to be a long process with many twists and turns.
In a way, that means the U.S. has long-term and low-cost chips to "hijack" the South China Sea issue. Therefore, we must adopt a long-term view about the South China Sea game between China and the U.S. and not be swayed by temporary and short-term situations. The way to solve the South China Sea issue is long and hard.
The author is Liu Feng, a researcher with the Maritime Silk Road Institute of Hainan Normal University.