03 July 2017
China knows it is not popular with ASEAN, except for one thing: money. So it is working more intensely than ever with those 10 South-east Asian countries to keep them happy with some of the cold hard stuff. China will bear keep-quiet gifts ranging from investment to military aid, leveraging its $11.2 trillion economy over countries with far less.
Eventually China and Southeast Asian countries will probably circle back to the maritime dispute. But instead of sticking it to Beijing, most will aim to propose a joint maritime “exercise,” says Collin Koh, maritime security research fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. That would make sense as ASEAN pushes Beijing this year for a South China Sea code of conduct – guidelines for jointly using a disputed sea without accidents. “I believe there would be full support from ASEAN for this, though it’s more likely that it would be just generalities instead of specifics, which would be worked out later on the nature and scope of exercise,” Koh says. “Most likely it’ll involve uncontroversial elements touching on such issues as search-and-rescue.”
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 11/07/2017