Several suggestions have been made as to what might next be done. Some hold that dispute could be submitted to a review by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea or the International Court of Justice. Such a review has been suggested by Professor Jerome Cohen, an internationally renowned China law scholar at New York University. The review is likely to take several years and, during that time, all parties involved would have strong incentives to engage in serious negotiations before a decision is reached.
Another approach calls for a joint administration of resources in and around the islands could be established and the issue of sovereignty shelved. In effect, informal proposals in the 1970s for the joint development of oil and gas resources in the disputed areas were made by Japanese and Chinese officials in the past, but never implemented. An agreement between China and Japan to jointly develop gas fields in the East China Sea was signed in 2008, but has yet to be carried out. Alternatively, sovereignty over the territory could be awarded to one state, but resource-related rights could be assigned to all claimants. Both of these recommendations have been put forward by the Carter Center.
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Beyond the specific disputes lies a more general question that the U.S. has not yet adequately addressed. What is the U.S. position toward China’s rising power? Will the U.S. go so far as to allow China its own version of the Monroe Doctrine, as some have suggested? Or will it allow China to expand as long as this expansion is limited to economic and cultural means but does not involve use of force? Follow a new strategy of mutually assured restraint? Or, will the U.S. insist on opposing any and all changes to the status quo – including existing rules governing maritime navigation, territorial claims, and so forth? In other words, will it follow the course taken by many other established powers that did not yield a quarter to rising powers and fell into what is has been called the Thucydides Trap, leading to a new world war?Read it all here.