South China Sea Dispute: ASEAN Falters As Brunei, Cambodia, Laos Side With China

South China Sea Dispute: ASEAN Falters As Brunei, Cambodia, Laos Side With China
ASEAN flags Prachatai / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

If there is one thing stopping China from totally dominating the South China Sea region, it is the seemingly uniformed front of different nations to challenge its claims. However, when consensus falters on either side, there are doubts on what the future could hold for the disputed region. Will China gain power or will other nations succeed in enforcing their rights?


China’s Consensus Bogus?

The Shangri-La Dialogue centered on in the South China Sea dispute as nations come together to question China’s intentions over the region. Admiral Sun Jianguo, Deputy Chief of the Joint Staff Department of China’s Central Military Commission, address the criticisms against the country including Beijing’s right to not honor the international tribunal’s ruling.

As other nations express concern over China’s ambitions, Beijing claims that there has been a consensus among Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and itself on how to manage the dispute. However, ASEAN secretary-general Le Luong Minh expressed uncertainty about the said consensus. National Interest quoted the official saying: “we are not even aware of what was agreed with China and the three ASEAN countries…We’ve heard nothing from Laos and Brunei on what was agreed or what happened.”  It is important to note that the said consensus looks like just between three ASEAN countries and China. This is opposed to the whole ASEAN alliance which would just indicate a split over the matter.

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US Wants to Intimidate China?

As Asian nations remain split over the matter, the United States seems determined to prevent China from ascending to power. U.S. carriers just sailed near South China Sea in an attempt to appease Asian allies. Analysts said that the massive show of force is the West’s way of assuring its allies as China continues to be aggressive in the disputed region. According to Japan Times, the exercises which were conducted ahead of the international ruling involved the USS John C. Stennis and USS Ronald Reagan. Around 12,000 sailors were also part of the drills including 140 aircraft and six other ships.

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