US Presidential election outcome key to shaping US maritime policy in South East Asia, predicts MAST

As the US Presidential election draws closer and as the margin between the candidates narrows, MAST, the international maritime risk management company, considers the strategic and security implications of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump policies towards one of the world’s greatest maritime areas; the hotly disputed region of the South China Sea.
This area demands the attention of the next President. China has the largest naval building programme of any country in the world and a third of world trade flows through the South China Sea.
If Hillary Clinton were to win the Presidential election we are likely to see a continuation of President Obama’s political and military ‘pivot’ towards Asia, announced during Clinton’s role as Secretary of State in 2011 when the US declared the shift. Yet this strategy will most likely be anything but plain sailing.
We might expect a President Trump also to maintain the emphasis afforded to Asia through the ‘pivot’ plan. However, one might also expect him to be more assertive than a President Clinton in, for example, the conduct of US Freedom of Navigation patrols in the South China Sea. Patrols could be conducted more frequently; more (and larger) warships could take part in the patrols; responses to engagements with Chinese warships might become more robust. This could increase the potential for a strategic miscalculation in the region.
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