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Philippine President Aquino favours code of conduct in South China Sea row with China

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 SCSC - Seeking United Nations arbitration to settle the Philippines' territorial rows with China would not be necessary if a "code of conduct" governing the contentious South China Sea could be concluded, Philippine President Benigno Aquino said Wednesday.

"If there's a formal code of conduct, then probably there's no need for arbitration”, Mr Aquino said in an exclusive interview with The Straits Times. [READ MORE]

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Conflict in the East and South China Seas: A Wikistrat Simulation

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SCSC - Last week saw yet another meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) which was hosted by Myanmar President Thein Sein on Nov. 12 and 13. ASEAN nations had initially hoped for further progress on territorial issues related to the East and South China Seas, yet once again came away with little agreement from Beijing, other than a promise by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang of$ 20 billion in loans and Beijing’s willingness to sign “friendship treaties” with ASEAN nations. Beijing also pledged RMB3 billion ($ 489 million) toward the fight on poverty, as well as other initiatives to boost infrastructure and economic development, in an effort to curry favor with those nations with which it has territorial disputes.

Over the last few years, the East and South China Seas have seen increasing conflict largely due to a more assertive and powerful China, which claims over 90 percent of the disputed waters. [READ MORE]

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Abe’s Humiliation in Beijing

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SCSC - The atmospherics of his meeting with Xi suggest there is little cause for optimism in bilateral relations.

For decades, Sino - Japanese relations were conducted under the principle of “separating politics and economics” (seikei bunri). In fact, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s 2006 book Utsukushii Kuni e [Towards a Beautiful Country], which embodied his grand vision for Japan during his first prime ministership, referred explicitly to Japan’s bifurcated policy of seikei bunri as the guiding principle of the Japan - China relationship. [READ MORE]

China Sea: India surfaces to protect Asean 'minnows'

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SCSC - The Modi government is showing increasing willingness to stand up to China by forging regional alliances.

As tension in the South China Sea continues to rise, countries like Vietnam and the Philippines are increasingly looking toward other regional powers to increase and maintain their interest in the Western Pacific. With growing India - Vietnam defence ties, Hanoi in particular is keen on India's presence in the region, be it for economic or strategic reasons. [READ MORE]

Japan's Military Is Revving Up To Meet China's Growing Regional Ambitions

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SCSC - For a long time, Japan's military force was an exercise in contradiction. The country has ranked among the world's top military spenders, at almost$ 50 billion in 2013 — despite a constitution that explicitly forbids war (and even the maintenance of "land, sea, and air forces").

But in July, the cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved a reinterpretation of the pacifist clause called Article 9. [READ MORE]

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Japan, U.S. at odds with China over tension in S. China Sea

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SCSC - Japan and the United States were at odds Thursday with China over the tension in the South China Sea, with the two allies urging Beijing to refrain from taking actions that could undermine stability in the resource - rich, strategically important sea but China apparently snubbing such a call.

Speaking at the East Asia Summit in Myanmar's capital Naypyitaw, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, "We expect (countries involved in territorial disputes in the sea) to exercise self - restraint against action that could undermine peace and stability in the South China Sea”, without singling out China by name. [READ MORE]

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Accelerating Maritime Security in the South China Sea: Small Satellites & a Common Operating Picture

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SCSC - As heads of state seek good - news deliverables at the Asia - Pacific Economic Cooperation, East Asia Summit, and Group of 20 leaders’ meetings, a longer - term issue is shaping the drivers of peace and conflict in maritime Southeast Asia. Growing tensions related to unresolved maritime disputes in the South China Sea are driving a maritime hardware buying spree by the littoral states. Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, and Indonesia are all investing in patrol craft and maritime domain awareness capabilities to overcome current gaps.

The investment choices, rational from each state’s perspective, are based in the same sovereignty - driven paradigm that is fueling tensions and will not provide sufficient impetus for dispute resolution or cooperation through an increased degree of transparency. [READ MORE]

Points of Control: China’s Weiqi Strategy in the South China Sea

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 SCSC - What is the core of Chinese strategy in the South China Sea dispute?

The Western eye is particularly ill trained to see through Beijing’s strategic moves. It tends to view the game nations play in terms of chess, but as keen observers of Chinese strategy such as Henry Kissinger and David Lai have noted, China plays weiqi in much of its foreign relations.

The oldest and most prominent board game in China, weiqi is, as its very name tells us, a game of encirclement. By contrast, chess is a game of checkmate. In chess, the game pieces, such as kings, queens, or pawns, vary vastly in their inherent value and power, which are determined by their definitional characters. In weiqi, there are no kings, queens, or pawns, only identical stones that derive their powers from where they are located in the larger configuration of the pieces. If chess is about the accumulation and attrition of physical power, weiqi is about the seizure and maneuvering of strategic positions. [READ MORE]

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US, Japan, Australia urge peaceful resolution of maritime disputes

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SCSC - The US, Australian and Japanese leaders said they were committed to deepening their already strong security cooperation in the Asia - Pacific, which comes amid China's increasingly assertive expansion in the region.

BRISBANE: The US, Australian and Japanese leaders on Sunday (Nov 16) called for peaceful resolutions of maritime disputes, a day after Barack Obama warned of the dangers of outright conflict in Asia as China contests disputed territory. [READ MORE]

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China cosies up to ASEAN with US$ 20b in loans

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SCSC - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday (Nov 13) also floated the possibility of a "friendship treaty" with Southeast Asian nations, in an apparent bid to defuse regional tensions which spiked this year over contested seas.

NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar: China on Thursday (Nov 13) offered US$ 20 billion in loans and floated the possibility of a "friendship treaty" with Southeast Asian nations, in an apparent bid to defuse regional tensions which spiked this year over contested seas. [READ MORE]

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China and ASEAN: Moving Beyond the South China Sea

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 SCSC - The 2014 APEC summit is over, but many of the world leaders leaving Beijing are not heading home. Instead, ASEAN leaders, U.S. President Barack Obama, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are heading to Naypyitaw, Myanmar for a series of meetings involving ASEAN, including the ASEAN Plus Three summit and the East Asia Summit. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will be attending on Beijing’s behalf.

China needs to try different tactics on the South China Sea disputes to gain ASEAN’s support for other Chinese projects. [READ MORE]

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