Jamil Anderlini has a good piece on how America lost the battle with China on the South China Sea. I am afraid he is right. It is a realistic piece. It is a damning indictment of the failure of the Obama Administration. China makes outlandish claims, proceeds to alter the facts on the ground and then the status quo becomes impossible to restore. It threatens, cajols and buys off resistance. Other countries can learn from China. This is effective statecraft because it works. Check out this podcast (especially between 17th and the 21st minute). One of the commentators repeatedly says that China was not just trying to influence Australia but to change Australia!
America has lost this particular round clearly because, as Jamil puts it,
Much of the fault lies with Barack Obama, the former US president, and Hillary Clinton, his secretary of state. President Donald Trump and his administration are in danger of accelerating the slide in American credibility. …But, by the time the “pivot” was quietly rebranded as a “rebalance” after several years of inaction, it became clear that the policy had been an unmitigated disaster.
Quite how the FT allowed one of its journalists to blame the infallible President Obama and his SoS is unfathomable. Perhaps, because he hedged with the next sentence, damning Trump.
The truth is that America does have other cards to play and much depends on how well they play them and, before that, the question of whether they decide to play them, remains to be answered too.
See this piece in Chinafile.com, for example.