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Two successive U.S. administrations – former President Barack Obama's and now President Donald Trump's – have failed to push back credibly against China's expansionism in the South China Sea, which has accelerated despite a 2016 international arbitral tribunal ruling invalidating its territorial claims there.For example, the United States has disinvited China from this summer's 26-country Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercise. As China takes a long-term strategic approach to strengthening its hold over the South China Sea (and, increasingly, beyond), the U.S. is focused solely on the prospect of all-out war.If open war is China's only vulnerability in the South China Sea, the U.S. will lose the larger strategic competition.Simply put, China is winning the battle for the South China Sea without firing a shot – or paying any international costs.The long-term strategic implications of what China has achieved in the South China Sea are far more serious.
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