The East and South China Seas have emerged as one of the principal potential flashpoints in China-US military relations. It is the one region in the world where significant U.S. and Chinese military forces operate in close proximity to each other.
Beijing has extended claims to a large portion of the ECS and SCS and has also asserted claims to various island groups within the region. As part of those claims, China has constructed and subsequently militarized seven artificial islands. These actions have been part of an increasingly assertive Chinese military and foreign policy toward its maritime neighbors and have been underscored by repeated violations of Taiwanese airspace by Chinese air forces over the last year.