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The Paracel Islands and South China Sea disputes require better understanding by U.S. policymakers in order to address the region's challenges. To attain that needed understanding, legal aspects of customary and modern laws are explored in this monograph to analyze the differences between competing maritime and territorial claims, and why and how China and Vietnam stake rival claims or maritime legal rights. Throughout, U.S. policies are examined through U.S. conflicted interests in the region. Recommendations for how the United States should engage these issues, a more appropriate task than trying to solve the disputes outright, are then offered.