Troubled Waters? The South China Sea in Focus

Date(s) - 04/24/18
5:15 pm - 6:30 pm

Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Hosted by
Chicago Council

Troubled Waters? The South China Sea in Focus

Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans, and Strategy, US Navy; Oriana Skylar Mastro, Assistant Professor of Security Studies, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University; Gregory Poling, Director, Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, and Fellow, Southeast Asia Program, CSIS. Moderated by Karl Friedhoff, Fellow, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy.


If you build it, do you own it? Tensions over territorial and maritime disputes in the South China Sea—not limited to the construction of islands capable of supporting military outposts—have been simmering for years. Only a few weeks into 2018, both China and the United States appear to have decided it is time for an escalation. The United States sent a navy destroyer near the Scarborough Shoal—the first such “Freedom of Navigation” mission in this area—and China publicly rebuked the United States for doing so, asserting that its sovereignty was violated. Such missions have long irked China, but the United States continues to have a large presence in the region. Is China ready to enforce its claims in the Pacific? How is the United States planning to deflect and diffuse these efforts, especially in light of the administration’s new National Defense Strategy?

Courtesy of the Asia Transparency Initiative at CSIS, this program will feature visual projections detailing the transformation of the South China Sea in recent years.


Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis

Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans, and Strategy, US Navy

Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis assumed the duties and responsibilities as deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans and strategy in August 2017. In this capacity he serves as the principal advisor to the secretary of the Navy and chief of naval operations on joint operations and the development of joint strategies, plans, programs and policies; on strategic planning, National Security Council affairs, international politico-military matters, and the current operational status of Naval Forces. As a flag officer, Lewis has served as the vice director for operations and director of fleet training at Fleet Forces Command. He has held five different commands culminating in his command of Carrier Strike Group 12. He has also served as the branch chief at the Joint Warfare Analysis Center, as battle director at the Combined Air Operations Center in Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, and as the maritime operations center director at Naval Forces Central Command Bahrain. He is a 1985 graduate of the US Naval Academy, and a graduate of Air Command and Staff College and the Armed Forces Staff College. He holds an MA from the University of Alabama.