06 May 2015
Asean leaders turned their focus on territory disputes in the South China Sea at their 26th summit last week, but the potential flashpoints are no nearer to being defused after the talks in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi Island.
Indeed, it is hard to be optimistic about a resolution anytime soon , or at all , with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noting that the disputes have grown more serious in the past year.
China, as the most powerful claimant, is increasingly adversarial despite years of patient diplomacy by Asean. Recent moves by Beijing to assert its claim have raised tensions further. Its relocation of an oil rig to waters claimed by Vietnam, sparking unusually harsh protests from Hanoi, along with the ramming of rival fishing vessels and the “accidental” cutting of a survey ship’s cables reflect a growing pattern of muscular response from China which is troubling the whole region, particularly the Philippines and Vietnam.
… Yang Razali Kassim is a senior fellow of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 06/05/2015