While many look to China’s past to explain recent tensions involving territorial maritime disputes, one also should consider the country’s perceptions of its future, Sasakawa USA Chairman and CEO Admiral Dennis Blair said at the Heritage Foundation’s recent security partner dialogue on Strategic Consensus in the Indo-Pacific.[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”Admiral Dennis Blair” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“The Chinese need to realize that not only is the Pacific Ocean big enough for the United States and China, but the East China Sea is big enough for China, the United States, Japan and in fact any other country that wants to sail a ship or fly an airplane there. So is the South China Sea.”[/perfectpullquote]
“Chinese leaders and much of the Chinese population believe that as China becomes more and more economically developed, more militarily powerful, it will naturally be dominant in maritime areas around its border,” Blair said. “A component of that dominance will be ownership of previously disputed territories in its border region, in previously disputed areas it has any sort of claim to – no matter how tenuous – along with powerful air and naval forces, that will give it maritime and air dominance in the region.”
Speaking as the keynote speaker of the panel titled Building Strategic Networks – Summary and Recommendations, Blair spoke on topics including security issues, territorial disputes in East Asia and possible peaceful solutions for maintaining positive relations in the area.
“It’s a very high-risk operation for China to satisfy its territorial ambitions with military force, and the outcome of any attempt to do that is far from certain,” Blair said.
“The Chinese need to realize that not only is the Pacific Ocean big enough for the United States and China, but the East China Sea is big enough for China, the United States, Japan and in fact any other country that wants to sail a ship or fly an airplane there. So is the South China Sea.”
Blair recommended several methods to resolve such disputes, such as by looking for opportunities for creative compromises or agreements for joint development, especially for those disputes that involve uninhabited islands.
View the video above for Blair’s full remarks and recommendations, followed by a Q&A session with the audience. Videos from the full day of panel discussions can be found here, and are provided courtesy of the Heritage Foundation.