Wednesday, August 15
The South China Sea is not nearing resolution, nor has it been “lost”. Instead, the “conundrum” is moving into a different and more difficult phase. Although things appear calmer on the surface, the pace of strategic change is accelerating in an unfavourable direction for Southeast Asia, with negative implications for the sovereign equality of small states rubbing up against the national interests of great powers, for adherence to international law and resistance to coercion.
While much of the day-to-day work of managing U.S. diplomatic, economic, and security interactions in Asia seems to have continued unchanged, this belies a very significant difference in the Trump Administration’s apparent view of how the United States should engage with the world.
This paper argues that only on a rule-based order enforced by appropriate measures can ASEAN and its partners achieve a peaceful and secure maritime environment that benefits all. To ensure safety and security amid the shifting balance of power and mounting non-traditional threats, seafarers need legal instruments such as UNCLOS, a prospective regional COC between ASEAN and China, and more relevant regional institutions.
Philippine policy on the South China Sea under Duterte is clearly still evolving, and efforts to seek a correct balance between a principled nationalist stand and more pragmatic objectives are bound to encounter many tests.
As disputes have escalated into tit-for-tat actions at South China Sea and East Sea, including naval posturing and provocative land reclamation, regional states have sought to enhance ‘good order' by attempting to formalize a nautical ‘code of conduct’. Yet, strategic analysts have proffered differing interpretations of maritime ‘good order’
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