Wednesday, July 26
If the past is prologue, China’s disregard for the Award and its continual militarization of its features in the South China Sea means that ASEAN’s Long March for a COC will remain a protracted one.
Although the South China Sea award has brought much clarity to the scope of the disputes and opened possibilities for peaceful dispute management, the situation in the South China Sea in the past year tends to tell a different story.
Recognizing the enduring importance of maritime power, President Donald Trump pledged to rebuild the U.S. armed forces in general and the navy in particular. As a result, in 2017, the United States is focused a new on international cooperation backed by strong naval power.
A key focal point of discussions at the June 2017 Shangri-La Dialogue (Security Summit) in Singapore was China and its actions in the South China Sea. Both the opening keynote address and the first two plenary sessions implicitly and/or explicitly responded to Beijing’s construction and militarisation of artificial islands in the area and, for this purpose, placed a significant amount of emphasis on the need to maintain a rules-based order.
Without law to support its position, Beijing would resort to power to demonstrate control over the South China Sea, not only to exclude external powers such as the US but to intimidate the ASEAN claimants into an acknowledgement of Chinese sovereignty.
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