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Why ASEAN is in Disarray in the South China Sea

Once celebrated as a model multilateral organization and an agent of positive regional change, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is in disarray.

On July 12, a tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague issued a judgment on the South China Sea that is widely seen as a victory for ASEAN member the Philippines over China.

An End to U.S.-Philippine Defense Cooperation?

“This year would be the last,” Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, said Friday of the countries’ joint military exercises.

Addressing the U.S. directly, he said: “For as long as I am there, do not treat us like a doormat because you’ll be sorry for it. I will not speak with you. I can always go to China.” [READ MORE]

China–Vietnam relations: past sovereignty and sea

Geopolitics is often seen through a telescopic lens: with intense focus in one spot with the rest entirely out of view. That often seems to happen to nations’ relations with China.

The US and China are a good example. Much of the conventional wisdom says that they’re competing for hegemony in Southeast Asia and, if you listen to Donald Trump, over trade. [READ MORE]

America Rising: Indispensable Again in Asia

The conventional wisdom in recent years has been that the United States, reeling from loss of prestige after the Iraq invasion and awash in the foreign policy uncertainty that it created, is overextended and exhausted and now fated to watch impotently as China takes its place.

The thesis of American decline, first developed in the 1970s after the United States lost the Vietnam War, was back in vogue. America was not only fading but unable to prevent the arrival of a new Chinese superpower ready and eager to assume pre-eminence and leadership in a region dominated by the United States since the end of the Second World War. [READ MORE]

How the US got outplayed in the Asia-Pacific

In the waning days of the Obama administration, the worm may be turning regarding the US military’s welcome in Asia. Indeed, the Obama foreign policy brain trust may be underestimating China’s diplomatic leverage and skill, and overestimating its own.

The current trends are not auspicious for the US. Indeed, we may be seeing a slow but sure seismic shift in US political standing in the region. [READ MORE]

What the Philippines and Australia can learn from Vietnam about living with China

It is early days, granted, but the Philippines' crude and crass new president Rodrigo Duterte appears increasingly intent on reversing his predecessor's plucky South China Sea policy and pro-Alliance leanings, opting instead for a tilt towards China.

The Philippines' proclivity to flip-flop in its great power relations reflects various factors. One is the absence of a strategic tradition. [READ MORE]

The South China Sea Showdown: What Should America (and the Region) Do About It?

The organizers of this gathering requested a “provocative” presentation. They knew not what they were asking! I will do my best to oblige.

Regional politics underwent a phase change last July, when jurists in The Hague struck down China’s claim to “indisputable sovereignty” over some 80-90 percent of a major waterway. [READ MORE]

Will India Become the Pivot of Asian Security?

India is situated in one of the most important locations in the world: in between East Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

This, together with India’s strong economy and large population, means that India is primed to be the pivotal country for Asian security. [READ MORE]

No Bigger Question: How Should the U.S. Handle the Rise of China?

Drawing on the history of the Cold War and the success of containment against the Soviet Union, the University of Chicago’s John Mearsheimer and Harvard University’s Stephen Walt argue that the United States will have no choice but to adopt the strategy of containment against China.

Preventing the rise of a peer competitor, in Mearsheimer’s view, is a vital strategic interest. He believes it would be wise for the United States to hem in China now, while the balance of power is so greatly in America’s favor. [READ MORE]

As Philippines' Duterte visits Vietnam, U.S. jibes hang over new partnership

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte met Vietnam's top leadership on Thursday, aiming to advance a burgeoning alliance that could become increasingly uncertain amid his defiance of the United States and overtures towards China.

Vietnam and the Philippines have drawn closer as China asserts more vigorously its claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea, but Duterte's almost daily jibes against the United States and his positive rhetoric about China may not sit well with Vietnam's leaders and their quieter, more calibrated diplomacy.

France Unveils Its Defense Strategy in the South China Sea and Beyond

In less than two weeks, the situation in the South China Sea has deteriorated at an accelerated pace: a joint Sino-Russian naval exercise; plans for Japan-U.S. joint patrols in the same area; Taiwan building anti-craft gun towers on Itu Aba; Jakarta trying to get U.S. help to upgrade its naval bases.

In all of these activities, the diplomatic waltz can make one dizzy. Even if nations caught in the territorial disputes share strong economic relations with China there is no doubt that, at the most opportune time, Beijing will take what it already considers as its territory, despite the disagreement of ASEAN members. [READ MORE]

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