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China advances in the South China Sea

Beijing has seized the initiative in the contested area. But Australia and Timor-Leste are nearing agreement in their zone of dispute

China enjoyed an almost free hand in cementing its claims on the South China Sea during 2017 as it continued to aggressively build infrastructure within the self-declared Nine Dash Line in defiance of international laws. As Beijing built more military-type facilities in the Paracel islets, in a maritime zone claimed by Vietnam, it scored a clear victory on land in the diplomatic war. To the dismay of Vietnam, in particular, which has challenged China's ambitions in waters through which a third of the world's shipping passes, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has abandoned his country's former hostility to China and could even be siding with Beijing against America. During the Asean su

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