The crux of the conflict is China’s attempt to assert its sovereignty over the South China Sea, a resource-rich conduit for roughly $5 trillion in annual global trade, of which $1.2 trillion is American, which U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared last year a matter of “national interest.”
Beijing’s assertive behavior in the South China Sea precipitated calls from Asian allies for the U.S. to deepen its involvement to be a strong counterweight. Those calls led to the formulation of Obama’s new Asia strategy, which administration officials admit changes America’s “military posture toward China” into something like the former East-West cold war. The first shots of the new war were heard last week.
President Obama, while traveling in Asia, fired the first rounds of the cold war when he declared the U.S. is a “Pacific nation,” and we intend to play "a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future.”
“I have directed my national security team to make our presence and missions in the Asia Pacific a top priority,” Obama said. The region “is absolutely vital not only for our economy but also for our national security,” and then the President and his representatives unveiled an avalanche of cold war-like initiatives intended to counter China’s influence.