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The U.S. South China Sea strategy has relied primarily on conventional and inadequate military instruments. Meanwhile, China has successfully increased its dominance of the maritime commons through asymmetric gray-zone tactics, such as its island-building campaign and aggressive employment of a large, forward staged military-paramilitary force. Through rapid militarization and escalation, China intimidates and coerces its neighbors and constrains their access to resources within their own lawful exclusive economic zones, often using the opacity and deniability of its gray zone tactics to asymmetric advantage. The effect has been to significantly undermine U.S. credibility, its network of partners and allies, and its Free-and-Open Indo-Pacific Strategy. This threatens to unravel the international order which has undergirded an unprecedented period of stability and prosperity, and replace it with a PRC-dominated regional tributary system.

Sealight seeks to develop more effective tools to shine a light into the gray zone of China’s maritime coercion strategy.

Sealight in the News