The neverending ups and downs of what is quickly becoming the hottest geostrategic flashpoint on the planet, none other than the South China Sea, wasthe subject of a conference at Yale University this last May. Panels were filled with world-class experts promoting their latest research (including yours truly) detailing the various claims, counterclaims and strategic challenges surrounding this important body of water. And yet, it wasn’t the heated Q&A sessions or slick powerpoints that drove debate among the attendees, but rumors of China’s latest territorial claims—a 251 dash-line that extends over almost all of the Pacific Ocean—that created the most buzz.
According to a ‘report’ on the website Elitereaders, a ‘clicky’ website that reports ‘viral’-styled news, Beijing is now claiming Hawaii and most of Micronesia. Delegates to the conference furiously began to share the article through various social media channels. Red-faced attendees were debating the nature of such claims as soon as they scanned the article. Many wondered if this was simply a negotiating strategy on Beijing’s part, a carefully crafted ploy to make equally outrageous claims in the South China Sea look meager by comparison—claiming massive chunks of the Pacific Ocean would sort of do that…. [read more]