US Increasing Presence in the South China Sea

The US will be increasing its presence in the South China Sea, with 60% of its fleet in the Asia Pacific region by 2020, increasing to 350 warships.  The US military has more troops in the Asia Pacific region than anywhere else, including the Middle East.  

US Patrols in the area have been on the rise, with 2016 reaching a record number of patrols.

Meanwhile, Vietnam is increasing its presence as well, expanding facilities on islands it already controls.  Most of the new focuses on China’s island building, but Vietnam controls 27 islets which is more than any other nation.

The Philippines are also expanding their presence, working to build a larger sea port on Thitu.

China has asked both nations to keep these issues bilateral – they would like to keep the US out of it.

Map of activities in the South China Sea