After months of rising tensions over disputed territories in the South China Sea, there are growing signs that the Philippine government is seeking to revive strained relations with Beijing. And no less than the Philippine President Benigno Aquino is spearheading the ongoing efforts to diplomatically resolve territorial disputes and prevent a disastrous conflict in the region.
As the U.S. struggles with a weeks-long government shutdown which has threatened the country’s economic recovery and forced President Barack Obama to cancel a series of high-stakes visits to Asia, China has instead taken the centre-stage, boosting ties with Asian neighbours and promising multi-billion trade and investment deals.
Under the reformist leadership of President Benigno Aquino III who has placed “good governance” initiatives at the heart of his administration’s agenda, the Philippines has enjoyed an unprecedented period of economic revival and political stability.
With the administration of Philippines President Benigno Aquino III devoting much of its political capital to resolving the conflict in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, which has claimed around 150,000 lives over decades, many came to believe in the genuine possibility of a new era of stability and economic prosperity in the region.
With little sign of a meaningful diplomatic breakthrough on the South China Sea horizons, coupled with a dangerous escalation between Vietnam and China in the disputed waters, the Philippines has faced an added crisis over the Malaysian state of Sabah.
After almost two decades of non-stop negotiations, and two years of intense U.S. opposition, the much-delayed and controversial 7.5 billion dollar Iran-Pakistan pipeline is well on its track to full operation in the next 15 months.
After a year of intense diplomatic standoff and territorial brinkmanship among disputing states in the South and East China Seas, the U.S. military ‘pivot’ to the region appears to be in full swing - a move that could further aggravate an already combustible regional dynamic.
With territorial tensions in the South China Sea entering a new phase of confrontation, there are signs of growing Indian involvement in regional affairs.
With newly re-elected President Barack Obama having chosen Southeast Asia as his first foreign destination, where he also attended the much-anticipated pan-Pacific East Asia Summit, the U.S. has underscored its commitment to its so-called strategic ‘pivot’ to the Asia-Pacific region.
Against the backdrop of growing territorial tensions in the South China Sea, inflamed by a more explicit Sino-American rivalry in the Pacific theatre, the recently-concluded ASEAN Summit in Cambodia represented the best chance at bolstering regional security through peaceful, multilateral mechanisms.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Cambodia, bringing together top leaders of all ten member nations represents a critical juncture to ensure regional security and in shaping the fate of the organisation itself, as divergent strategic positions among member countries threaten the very fabric of the regional body.
Iran continues to defy western pressure and assert its interests in the highly strategic and vital region of the Persian Gulf -which supplies 40 percent of the world's energy resources- as well as the greater Middle East and Central Asia. Sino-Iranian relations, which have grown steadily stronger are entering a critical stage, and the West will have to address the emerging alliance between these two revisionist powers.