China’s early-May decision to dispatch the state-of-the-art oil rig, HYSY981,
into Vietnam’s 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), has intensified ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea, raising fears of uncontrolled military escalation in one of the world’s most important waterways.
Last year, the Philippines brought a complaint against China’s aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea to the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal. It was a master stroke by the Philippine government.
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.
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.