10 May 2016
As the country coordinator of ASEAN-China dialogue relations for three years till mid 2018, Singapore is well placed as a non-claimant state to the South China Sea disputes to help reduce tensions and expedite realisation of the proposed Code of Conduct (COC).
Despite their multi-faceted nature, ASEAN-China dialogue relations – which Singapore will be coordinating for another two years – are set to be overshadowed by the worsening South China Sea disputes.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated on 23 April 2016 that China had reached a four-point ‘consensus’ with Brunei, Cambodia and Laos on the South China Sea territorial disputes. They agreed that the disputes are “not an issue between China and ASEAN as a whole”. It is clear that this view is a reinforcement of China’s support for a bilateral approach as opposed to the ASEAN-China approach. Singapore, in its role as the current ASEAN-China dialogue relations country coordinator, could make important contributions to the building of consensus among the parties involved at three critical junctures this year, with the ultimate goal of formulating the proposed Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.
… Shawn Ho is an Associate Research Fellow with the Regional Security Architecture Programme, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 11/05/2016