31 January 2015
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plans to form a Political-Security Community by the end of this year to coordinate regional security policies, but those efforts are hampered by rising tensions in the South China Sea and the bloc’s inability to speak with one voice on the issue.
Analysts and officials whom TODAY spoke to said differing views among ASEAN members on the Philippines’ unilateral decision to seek international arbitration of its territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea show the regional bloc still has some way to go before it can agree on issues such as preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution.
“ASEAN has not yet achieved common perception among its 10 members that they are in fact a political-security community. ASEAN treats the Philippines as an orphan on South China Sea issues,” said Emeritus Professor Carl Thayer of the Australian Defence Force Academy.
“There is still a long way to go before we get to an ASEAN Political-Security Community,” said Mr Ong Keng Yong, executive deputy chairman of Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) and former ASEAN Secretary-General in an interview with TODAY this week.
…Mr Ong at RSIS said that while the Philippines had the right to seek arbitration, its “pushing the issue to the brink” has polarised positions within ASEAN. “ASEAN’s way of managing disputes through consultations meant that we could control the situation and ensure that things do not flare up. But now that it has been brought to an independent mechanism, the options have been limited,” he said.
IDSS / RSIS / Online / Print
Last updated on 01/12/2015