Chinese drilling rig casts a shadow over the ASEAN summit

Chinese drilling rig casts a shadow over the ASEAN summit 0

China’s dispatch of the HD-981 oil rig to the East Sea violates Vietnam’s sovereignty and hinders the negotiation process to resolve the dispute.

Just a few days before the ASEAN Summit took place in Myanmar, the situation in the East Sea became tense with the event of China downing the HD-981 oil rig, violating the waters under Vietnam’s sovereignty.

Analysts say that the two events show that the sovereignty dispute in the East Sea is developing in a more complicated direction than before and the risk of conflict is increasing.

Expert Ian Storey of Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies said that the events of the past week make the East Sea the most important agenda in the upcoming conference, and will reveal disagreements among ASEAN countries.

There are currently four ASEAN countries that have sovereignty disputes with China in the East Sea, namely Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

Vietnam and the Philippines are expected to have the most positive moves at this conference.

The Wall Street Journal quoted Philippine Foreign Ministry spokesman Charles Jose as saying that President Benigno Aquino intends to urge the parties to speed up the negotiation process of the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).

Mr. Jose also emphasized that the Philippine government hopes that ASEAN will express its deep concern over the recent situation in the East Sea, and reaffirm the bloc’s determination to protect the law.

However, strategic analysts believe that this summit is unlikely to achieve substantive results on the East Sea issue.

Risk of intra-regional disagreement

With disputes constantly increasing in recent years, China is applying a dual strategy with ASEAN.

`Of the 10 ASEAN members, only four countries have sovereignty disputes with China, especially Vietnam and the Philippines. Other countries may not have unfavorable statements against China because of that,` Mr. Ngo Si

Resolving the East Sea dispute between some members and China is always a headache for ASEAN, because Beijing is the most important economic and trade partner of Southeast Asia.

`Beijing is taking a big step in claiming its sovereignty, thereby challenging the determination of Southeast Asian countries and the US,` said expert Christopher Len of the Institute of Energy Research, National University of Singapore.

Chinese drilling rig casts a shadow over the ASEAN summit

The July 2012 ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Cambodia could not issue a joint communiqué because of disagreements on the East Sea issue.

On the issue of sovereignty disputes, China wants to deal with each specific country individually, while the countries involved and the US hope to negotiate under a multilateral mechanism.

Another major obstacle is that ASEAN’s decisions must be passed on the basis of consultation and consensus, so it is difficult for the countries involved to convince the whole bloc to have a strong common attitude towards China, especially

Vietnam expert Carl Thayer said that ASEAN does not want to antagonize China, to avoid the possibility of the country ending negotiations with the bloc, which take a lot of time to start.

In 2002, ASEAN and China signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), but the implementation process and the formation of a specific set of rules did not achieve substantive progress after many years of negotiations.

The scenario of ASEAN not being able to issue a joint communiqué because the East Sea issue, like two years ago at the conference in Phnom Penh, is said to be possible again although this possibility is very low.

At the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in July 2012, for the first time in the bloc’s history, a joint communiqué could not be issued because the parties had deep disagreements.

Strategic experts say that the host country Myanmar will not risk repeating the above scenario, even though this country has a close economic and political connection with China.

`The closing statement of this conference will probably be the same as in previous years. ASEAN will again call on all parties to exercise restraint, conduct dialogue and reduce tensions, but will not publicly criticize China.`

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *