With the war in Afghanistan and the recent Sri Lankin onslaught against the Tamil Tigers, you could be forgiven for missing another potential flashpoint in southeast Asia. In March of this year, a US maritime surveillance ship sailing near Hainan Island, south of mainland China, found itself surrounded by Chinese naval vessels. China accused the US of having violated international law by conducting surveillance activities in waters where China claims jurisdiction, while the US insisted the area is international waters.
Regardless of which country was legally in the right, the stand-off was evidence of the US government’s increasing anxiety about China’s naval expansion in the region. In a web exclusive for Prospect today, Jeffrey Henderson asks: who will step in to prevent potential escalation of this superpower rivalry in the Indian ocean? Henderson, who is professor of International Development at the University of Bristol, argues that perhaps only a strengthened EU can mediate between the two nations before the conflict intensifies. As ever, let us know your thoughts below.