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Foreign Affairs, Defence and
The Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN)—comprising Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the
Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam—was created
in 1967 to contain
the spread of communism and promote stability and
cooperation in the Asia-Pacific. Today the grouping remains the primary
forum for dialogue and cooperation in Southeast Asia, and its leading
institutions—including the ASEAN Regional Forum and the East Asia Summit—have played
an important role in shaping the region’s rules and values.
For the Australian Government, ASEAN is a key entry point
for engagement with the region and its institutions sit ‘at
the heart of Australia’s vision for a stable, open, inclusive and resilient
The complex maritime and territorial disputes in the South
China Sea (SCS) present a formidable challenge for ASEAN, threatening the
region’s stability and testing its leadership. ASEAN’s successful management of
the disputes is of both regional and global interest. Southeast Asia is one of the most strategically and
economically important regions in the world, with the 10 ASEAN countries home
to around 650 million people, the third largest population and fifth largest
economy in the world—predicted to be the fourth largest by 2030. The region’s sea lanes connect the oil rich Indian Ocean region to China and the Asia
Pacific and are estimated to carry around $5 trillion worth
of maritime trade each year, with around 60 per cent entering via the narrow
Strait of Malacca. Around 11
billion barrels of oil are believed to lie beneath the
seabed, and some 190 trillion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas. As the US
and its allies assert their ‘Free
and Open Indo-Pacific’ strategy to directly challenge China’s actions in
the SCS, the disputes are increasingly seen as a
contest between a rule-based and a power-based order.
engagement with China on the SCS began in the early 1990s after a series of
clashes raised fears of escalating violence in the waters. After years of
unproductive negotiations ASEAN
and China signed a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea
in 2002, agreeing to abide by the principles of international
law, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities and not to militarise
contested areas. The parties also agreed to work towards a code of conduct in
the South China Sea.
Twenty years later progress ‘can
be measured in millimetres’. As we see below, far from complying
with the 2002 Declaration of Parties, China has accelerated its expansion and
military presence, the disputes have increased in intensity and there appears
to be little prospect of finalising a mutually acceptable Code of Conduct.
Without any constraint to China’s claims, it
is feared that the waterway will become a permanent point of contention.
Over its 50-year history ASEAN has made an important contribution
to the region’s stability, building unparalleled convening power and the
capacity to mediate ‘broadly peaceful relations among great powers’.
But as the SCS disputes open rifts between member states, ASEAN has been unable
to respond as a united entity beyond providing
a platform for the views of individual leaders. Commentators have argued that ASEAN’s
failure to develop an effective instrument to settle the territorial disputes after
decades of negotiations is a
sign of its increasing irrelevance, while its principles of consensus
and non-interference are ill-suited to the region’s new security realities,
giving ‘de facto veto power to every ASEAN member irrespective of their
interests in the SCS’.
This has resulted in paralysis
in the face of territorial aggression and decisions that ‘compromise all
but satisfy none’.
It is not surprising that the grouping has struggled to find
a unified voice on the disputes. Of the four ASEAN claimant countries, Vietnam
the brunt of tensions in the waters and is ‘actively
hedging’ between the US and China and expanding its strategic alliances
outside the region to reduce its vulnerability in the SCS. Brunei and Malaysia have traditionally
been reluctant to confront China on the issue, keen to preserve their
diplomatic and economic relations. Long-time US ally the Philippines moved
closer to China under Duterte’s administration, setting aside the 2016 Permanent
Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling that overwhelmingly supported the Philippines’ claims to
take advantage of Chinese economic investments. More
recently however the Philippines’ administration appears to have reversed this
stance, highlighting their PCA victory and pushing back forcefully against the influx of Chinese boats in
their waters in July 2021.
non-claimant states, Cambodia is closest to China and has used its veto power
to block ASEAN statements on the SCS, while the current regimes in Thailand,
Myanmar and Laos are unlikely to support any move that irks China. Indonesia
not a party to
disputes and has largely downplayed its differences with China, but it has
challenged China’s ‘nine-dash
line’ where it extends into the Natuna Sea, and the two
countries have clashed over Chinese incursions.
China has meanwhile used its regional economic weight to effectively
Southeast Asia on a short leash’, according to one observer, stifling
protest against its maritime aggression and undermining ASEAN unity on the
Despite these challenges, commentators see few alternatives
to a strong ASEAN in managing the SCS disputes. ‘Frustrating and at times
ineffectual as it is’, the International Crisis Group’s Yanmei Xie contends, ASEAN
has been at the fore of Southeast Asia’s progress in economic integration and cooperative
governance and it would be ‘a mistake to underestimate ASEAN nations’ will to
preserve the institution and its ideal’.
Veteran Southeast Asian diplomat
Bilahari Kausikan argues that ASEAN is too easily discounted, and while
lacking economic and military power it
wields ‘real influence in maintaining peace and stability in the region’. But
it is important to understand how this influence works, Kausikan observes:
fundamental purpose is not to solve problems but to manage mistrust and
differences among its members and stabilize a region where even civility in relations
is not to be taken for granted, thus minimizing the opportunities for
A key factor in ASEAN’s influence is how
it manages its engagement with major powers and
its ability to preserve ASEAN
‘centrality’ in regional issues.
US-China competition in Southeast Asia
The South China Sea is often characterised as the epicentre
of US-China strategic competition. Managing great power rivalry is not new
for ASEAN, which has traditionally relied on a multipolar, non-aligned stance to
provide a bulwark against conflicting great power interests. As US analyst
David Shambaugh has observed, ‘borne out of their colonial histories, ASEAN
states have a long history of protecting their independence and warding off
interference and great power competition’.
As US-China competition has unfolded ASEAN nations continue
to see little choice but to engage with both sides.
But China’s deepening influence has shifted the balance of power in the region,
and ASEAN’s ‘balancing act and aspirations for centrality – both within its
diverse membership and in relations with the two great powers – have become
more difficult and tenuous’.
Escalating tensions between the major powers have been viewed with concern as
ASEAN countries fear being sidelined by an increasingly
adversarial dynamic or ‘forced
into invidious choices’.
China’s objectives in the SCS have been among the principal
drivers of its relations with ASEAN. China began a dialogue process with ASEAN
in 1991 and has steadily increased its engagement, including through a number
of maritime cooperation frameworks. By 2010 it had become an ‘agenda
setter’, signalling its aim to assume a leading strategic role in the
region. Despite widespread unease over China’s growing dominance, Southeast
Asia has moved closer to China over this time and views its largest trading
partner as an ‘indispensable stakeholder’ in the region.
In contrast, US influence in Southeast Asia over
the last few decades is widely seen to have waned, the result of policy
neglect and decisions, such as the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific
Partnership and the Trump administration’s ‘America First’ stance. But as the
only power able to challenge China’s dominance in the region the US remains a
force, even though this role is at times ‘grudgingly’
accepted by Southeast Asian countries. For Yanmei Xie the US must ‘walk a
fine line’ in its dealings with the region, providing a backstop for the
region’s peace and stability without overriding ASEAN leadership or provoking
‘Beijing into a superpower showdown that ends up crushing smaller states’.
ASEAN’s response to US-China rivalry
is articulated in its 2019 ‘Outlook on the Indo-Pacific’ (AOIP), an assertion of ASEAN values
that aims to replace security competition with ‘dialogue and
cooperation’, avoiding the ‘deepening
of mistrust, miscalculation and patterns of behavior based on a zero-sum game’. The AOIP also seeks to
uphold the centrality of ASEAN’s regional
architecture and respect for international law, making specific reference to
UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The AOIP is careful to distinguish ASEAN’s vision for the region from the US concept
of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, to avoid any association with US strategies to
counter China. ASEAN instead promotes a vision of mitigating great power
rivalries by providing ‘an inclusive meeting place for the competing
visions of regional order offered by great and regional players’.
From Indonesia’s perspective the AOIP was ‘a strategic necessity’: ‘ASEAN can no longer sit and watch extra-regional powers
actively shape the future of the region’. But commentators argue that ASEAN needs to do more than simply assert its centrality—it needs to earn it by taking a stance on
pivotal strategic issues such as the SCS.
ASEAN-China Code of Conduct for the South China Sea
For ASEAN, an
agreed Code of Conduct (COC) is critical to preventing conflict and managing
disputes in the SCS. As noted above, however, the process of
working towards a COC has been fraught and protracted. ASEAN’s long-term goal
has been to establish a binding COC that commits parties to a
rules-based, as opposed to a power-based, regional order. But the first drafts exchanged between
ASEAN and China in 2000—some six years after endorsing the concept—revealed major
areas of disagreement, including on the geographic scope of a Code of Conduct, restrictions on
construction on occupied and unoccupied features, military activities in
disputed waters and policies on the detention of fishermen found in disputed
waters. Since then ASEAN has failed to achieve
internal consensus on several key issues, including what would constitute a
binding COC, while China has exploited these divisions to prolong and deflect decisions.
The scope of a COC has been limited from the beginning. Both
ASEAN and China agreed that a COC could not address the ‘root cause’ of the
disputes—namely, competing sovereignty claims or disputes over maritime
jurisdictions—which will ‘only be resolved
by direct negotiations amongst the claimant states’. On key substantive
issues, however, ASEAN and China have been unable to resolve their differences.
China has rejected ASEAN’s demand for a binding COC, arguing that adherence
should be voluntary.
It has also insisted that jurisdictional disputes be resolved bilaterally, part
of what is seen as a ‘divide and rule’ strategy which aims to prevent claimant
countries from acting collectively and diluting protests against its violations of
China has largely been successful in this endeavour. ASEAN as a grouping has never
formally mentioned China’s maritime and territorial violations in the SCS, nor
the 2016 arbitral ruling in favour of the Philippines. The August 2011 ASEAN
ministerial meeting to adopt principles for implementing the DOC resulted in
merely ‘vague guidelines’ with ASEAN forced to drop its demand for prior
A year later the 20th ASEAN Summit shook tradition by ending for the first time
without an agreed leaders’ statement after the Cambodian Chair refused to allow
references to the SCS disputes in the final text. During the Philippines’ 2017
chairmanship of ASEAN, President Duterte prevented any adversarial statements
directed at China’s escalation in disputed territories, cementing the practice
of not discussing the 2016 arbitral ruling.
Overall, US analyst Felix Chang argues, the COC process has
done little to foster cohesion among ASEAN countries. Rather than pulling
together in the face of an ever more powerful China, ASEAN states have pursued
independent strategies, ‘clinging to their rights to national sovereignty over
cooperation and unity’, while China
‘seems to have convinced most Southeast Asian countries that opposing it would
come at the expense of their future prosperity, whether through reduced trade
with China or investment from its Belt and Road Initiative’.
States Studies Centre (USSC) analysts John Lee and Davina Lee argue that the
COC process has allowed ASEAN to become ‘inadvertently
China’s security objectives in Southeast Asia:
… drawn-out Code
of Conduct negotiations allow China to admonish other powers, especially the US
and its allies, for interfering in the process. By using economic largess or
else coercion to pick off selected countries it has prevented the emergence of
any consensus within ASEAN. At the same time, Beijing continues to unilaterally
and illegally expand and consolidate control over areas of the SCS whilst deflecting
criticism by pointing out that it is tirelessly seeking a diplomatic and
negotiated solution with Southeast Asia nations.
Even as they insist
that regional diplomacy and agendas must be driven by ASEAN ‘norms, mechanisms
and processes’, the authors argue, ASEAN states have been unable to
place any constraints on China’s actions. ASEAN’s insistence on ‘not taking sides’ and reluctance to
criticise China means in practice that it tacitly supports the status quo China
has established, in violation of ASEAN’s own principles. China has ‘outplayed’
the US in the ASEAN game, they conclude, despite the ‘profound fears about
Chinese dominance held by ASEAN member states’.
For its part China has endeavoured to exclude the US and
other non-regional actors from involvement in the disputes by opposing any
attempts to ‘internationalize’ the issue, demanding the COC:
… should not be covered by the UNCLOS treaty; joint
military exercises with countries outside the region must have the prior
consent of all parties to the agreement; and no resource development
should be conducted with countries outside the region.
As Southeast Asia analyst Huong Thi Ha notes, this ‘characterisation of “rule-making” is
diametrically opposed to ASEAN’s outward-looking approach that seeks to engage
all external powers in an open, inclusive regional order’.
Both sides have nevertheless remained committed to a COC
process and since 2017 consultations have gained
single draft negotiating text was agreed in 2018 and intended to serve as the
basis for the adoption of a COC. But the process continues to fail
to advance fundamental issues, notably the geographic scope of a COC, dispute
settlement mechanisms, resource management and the Code’s legal status.
Analysts are sceptical that China’s continued enthusiasm for
the COC process indicates any change in its agenda, pointing to its controversial
new coast guard law—which
authorises China’s Coast Guard to use force against any foreign vessels found
in waters that Beijing claims as its territory—and continued harassment
of claimants’ vessels to argue that it remains unlikely
that China would accept any legal requirement to comply with UNCLOS and the PCA
commitment to the COC process has been linked to its wish to be seen as
a credible rules-maker in the region and
discomfort in being seen as an ‘outlaw’ in regard to the 2016 arbitral ruling.
Hoang Thi Ha suggests that China
sees a non-binding ASEAN code of conduct as an opportunity to ‘extricate itself’
from the ruling, confine the issue to a regional dispute, reduce the scope for US involvement, and maximise
its role in shaping the rules of the region. An ASEAN COC process could help China
achieve this end, Thi Ha argues:
The prized value
of the CoC process to Beijing is not to prevent and manage incidents, but to
create and amplify the positive narrative that regional countries can manage
their problems and hence external powers should be kept at bay. The end-goal is
to work towards a regional maritime order that is best left to China and its
smaller neighbours without “outsider intervention” – one that is more pliable
and conforming to China’s worldview and interests.
Until recently the US has couched its interests in the SCS
on the basis of freedom of navigation, but in July 2020 the US signalled a
shift in focus to international law, declaring
most of China’s claims in the SCS unlawful and aligning its position with
the 2016 arbitral ruling.
The change in US rhetoric is seen as adding to international pressure on China:
It is much easier to rally international support against
“illegal” activity than against actions that are merely distasteful or
destabilizing. It is also much more damaging to a country that aspires to
global leadership to be accused of gross violations of international law.
ASEAN’s strengthening resolve?
ASEAN countries have pushed back against China’s actions in
the SCS on many
occasions over the past few decades, but until recently this resistance has
tended to remain discreet. There are signs of an emerging regional consensus on
the illegality of China’s claims, however, and increased
willingness on the part of ASEAN leaders to
voice their opposition in a more unified way.
In December 2019 Malaysia surprised many with a strongly-worded
challenge to China’s claims to the maritime features in the SCS in its submission
to the Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf, arguing that the claims
had ‘no basis under international law’.
Malaysia’s challenge is of particular note in that it broke
the ‘legal logjam’ created when President Duterte set aside the 2016 PCA
ruling in his country’s favour, which effectively disabled the ruling while
other claimant states remained silent. Earlier in 2019 the Malaysian
Foreign Minister stated that Malaysia will ‘“always tell Beijing that we
will discuss the SCS on a group basis”’ and that ‘“going bilateral would put it
at a disadvantage”’.
In what has been seen as a diplomatic blow to China,
Malaysia’s move has sparked a series of note verbales from Vietnam, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the
Philippines, and Singapore, as well as Australia, Japan, France, Germany, the
UK and the US, confirming their support for UNCLOS and the primacy of
Shortly after, Indonesia became the
first ASEAN country to invoke the 2016 PCA ruling when it used
‘uncharacteristically strident language’ to assert China’s claims in the Natuna
Sea had ‘no legal basis’ in UNCLOS.
The COVID-19 induced pause in ASEAN-China COC negotiations also
appears to have strengthened ASEAN leaders’ resolve on the issue. Vietnam used
its position as ASEAN Chair in 2020 to take a stronger leadership role,
overseeing a ‘significant
shift in ASEAN’s rhetoric’ on the disputes in the 36th ASEAN Summit Chair’s
statement by affirming ‘that the 1982 UNCLOS is the basis for determining
maritime entitlements, sovereign rights, jurisdiction and legitimate interests
over maritime zones’.
A number of ASEAN countries have signalled their intention
to work more cooperatively on SCS disputes. In April 2021 Malaysia and Vietnam signed
an agreement on maritime security, while Indonesia and Vietnam resumed talks to finalise negotiations on the maritime boundary between
their Exclusive Economic Zones near the SCS and committed to finalising an
ASEAN-China Code of Conduct in line with international law. In July 2020
Vietnam signed a memorandum of understanding with the US, pledging support for
Vietnamese fishermen against what the US called ‘illegal
intimidation’ in the waterway. In a significant foreign policy reversal, the
Philippines Government publicly acknowledged the 2016 arbitral ruling in 2020
and has robustly defended its sovereignty in the SCS over recent months in
response to ongoing incursions by Chinese vessels in
disputed waters, under its pragmatic policy of ‘cooperation as much as
possible and pushback whenever necessary’.
The shift in ASEAN leaders’ positions has been linked to
what some see as China’s overreach on the SCS disputes. China has ‘run roughshod’ over its neighbours
in maritime disputes, rejected the authority of international legal bodies and
escalated military confrontations with the US and others, it has been
argued, eroding confidence in China as ‘a good-faith partner’ in negotiations
on the SCS.
Le Thu observes that China has historically been adept at operating just
below the ‘red line’, pushing boundaries ‘just below the threshold of open
conflict’. For Le Thu, the SCS has been a prime example of how this works, but
now ‘the traditional playbook of “divide and rule”, in which such provocative
actions that usually target one claimant at a time to prevent solidarity among
ASEAN members, seems to have been set aside’:
In recent months, spats have broken out with Vietnam,
Malaysia and the Philippines.
Even Indonesia, which is not a party to disputed territories
with China, has publicly opposed Beijing's South China Sea claims. On June
4, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said at a press conference that Jakarta
objected to China's "so-called nine-dash line" and "so-called
historic rights". The Philippines has also backtracked from a decision to
abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US, citing obliquely
"political and other developments in the region".
Where to from here?
While pointing out the limitations of an ASEAN-China COC,
analysts hold out hope that ASEAN may yet prove able to forge an effective
platform to manage the disputes.
for Strategic and International studies (CSIS) Expert Working Group on the
South China Sea argues that ASEAN’s greatest value in regard to the SCS
lies not in its Code of Conduct but in providing the diplomatic platform needed
to engage claimant parties in dialogue. Negotiations on the COC will inevitably
be prolonged and inconclusive, they submit, and the process should not be seen
as a dispute resolution mechanism. Nor is an ASEAN-China COC the right vehicle
to negotiate the details of resource
management in disputed areas—‘a necessary component for effectively managing
the disputes’—since the process
involves not just claimants but all ASEAN members. The real value of the
COC process, they argue, is in ‘managing
the tension surrounding the disputes and removing the triggers for conflict’ by:
and clarify[ing] aspects of the international rules-based order as applied to
the South China Sea and establish[ing] important rules and processes for
managing tensions pending the eventual settlement of disputes.
Southeast Asia analyst Richard Heydarian holds out hope that
ASEAN can provide a platform for its members to build ‘a coordinated and
coherent resistance’ to China, and notes that China has shown a willingness to respond
to international pressure:
From its decision to forego veto powers within the Asian
Infrastructure Investment Bank amid Western pushback to greater emphasis on
debt sustainability and major concessions to Malaysia over “debt trap” concerns
vis-à-vis the Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing has shown its willingness to
recalibrate in face of concerted pushback. One reason China has refused to
specify the precise coordinates of its nine-dash line claims is because it wants
to maintain space for negotiations down the road. Absent a coordinated and
coherent resistance among key regional states, China will likely continue its
current course of transforming the regional maritime and geopolitical landscape
in its own image.
For ASEAN to take leadership on the issue, however, analysts
suggest that its member states need to expand their understanding of the ‘ASEAN
way’ and embrace a broader understanding of their national interest. Bilahari
Kausikan argues that ASEAN countries need to recall one of the founding tenets
of the organisation, that the ‘regional interest had to be part of the national
interest’. Reflecting on Cambodia’s refusal to compromise on ASEAN language on
the SCS in 2012 he noted:
ASEAN is an inter-state organisation, not a supra-national
organisation. No member is required to give up its sovereign right to define
its national interests as it chooses. … But as S. Rajaratnam, Singapore’s
first foreign minister, put it at the signing of the Bangkok
Declaration in 1967, henceforth Southeast Asian nations had to adopt a “new way
of thinking,” in which the regional interest had to be some part of each
member’s definition of national interest. The other foreign ministers made much
the same point in their own ways.
ASEAN’s original members had differences of interests that
were, in some cases, more fundamental than Cambodia’s support for China. Among
them, the Philippine claim to Sabah which led Malaysia to boycott some early
ASEAN meetings; the role of foreign bases in Southeast Asia, which almost led
Singapore to walk out of the foreign minister’s meeting drafting the Bangkok
Declaration; and at the end of the 1980s during the end-game in Cambodia, when
Indonesia again tried to impose its will as regional hegemon. But the sense
that the regional interest had to be part of the national interest held ASEAN
together, and compromises were found.
It has also been suggested that ASEAN adopt
a new approach to decision-making in key areas of security cooperation,
applying an ‘ASEAN minus-X’ formula or ‘flexible consensus’ principle in such
cases. Heydarian describes the ASEAN minus-X formula as a kind of
‘“mini-lateral cooperation” whereby like-minded Southeast Asian states jointly
coordinate their response to a specific crisis without hopelessly requiring the
consent of regional naysayers’.
Thi Ha believes there is sufficient nuance in ASEAN’s core principles to
allow for action:
The exercise of non-interference in ASEAN has so far been
more nuanced than generally depicted. There has been no lack of painstaking
effort by ASEAN to reconcile this principle with the imperative to consult and
influence each other on matters that affect ASEAN’s common interest and
regional peace and stability. This includes the ongoing endeavours by Indonesia
and other likeminded ASEAN member states to effect positive change in Myanmar.
After all, non-interference is not the only principle enshrined in the ASEAN
Charter. It should be interpreted and applied in balance with the principles of
“shared commitment and collective responsibility in enhancing regional peace,
security and prosperity” (Art. II.2(b)), “adherence to the rule of law, good
governance, the principles of democracy and constitutional government” (Art.
II.2(h)) and “enhanced consultations on matters seriously affecting the common
interest of ASEAN” (Art. II.2(g)).
Commentators are urging the international community to build
a coalition of support for Southeast Asian countries and ‘help steer China toward a compromise that the
international community could live with’. Such a compromise, according to a
former US Assistant Secretary of State, is ‘the best chance to peacefully
manage the SCS disputes’.
Yanmei Xie argues that the great powers ‘would be better
off’ supporting ASEAN to maintain the region’s stability. ASEAN’s ‘undoing’
would drive regional states to ‘seek security through destabilizing arms races,
bandwagoning, and offshore balancing’, she contends:
China and the U.S. are unlikely to see eye to eye on most
issues in the South China Sea any time soon, but both would be better off
preserving ASEAN’s centrality in managing the thorny disputes. The alternative
is a fractured region caught between two superpowers inching closer with bare
. J Stromseth, Rivalry
and response: assessing great power dynamics in Southeast Asia,
Brookings Institution Press, 2021, p. 1.
. N Naxar
role in conflict management: active and effective?’ University of
Nottingham Asia Research Institute, blog, 17 November 2017.
. R Heydarian, ‘At
a strategic crossroads: ASEAN centrality amid Sino-American rivalry in the
Indo-Pacific’, in JR Stromseth, ed., Rivalry and response: assessing
great power dynamics in Southeast Asia, Brookings Institution, 2021, p. 58.
. R Heydarian, ‘At
a strategic crossroads’, ibid., pp. 53–54. P Kim Beng, ‘ASEAN is failing’, op. cit.; L Tong,
ASEAN crisis, part 1: why the South China Sea is a critical test’, The
Diplomat, 21 December 2016. R Heydarian, ‘At a strategic crossroads’, op.
cit., p. 58.
. Huong Le Thu, ‘Asean’s
response to Chinese militarisation in the South China Sea? Keep quiet and carry
on’, South China Morning Post, 3 May 2017.
. Y Xie, The
South China Sea needs ASEAN more than ever,
International Crisis Group, July 2016.
. B Kausikan, The arena: Southeast Asia in the age of great-power rivalry, Council on Foreign Relations, New York, 2021.
. D Shambaugh, Where
great powers meet: America and China in Southeast Asia, Oxford University
Press, New York, 2021, p. 4.
. L Odgaard,
‘The South China Sea: ASEAN’s security concerns about China’, Security
Dialogue, 34(1), March 2003, p. 13.
. M Cook and
Hoang Thi Ha, ‘Formal
and flexible: ASEAN and the new strategic disorder’, Perspective, ISEAS
Yusof Ishak Institute, 17 August 2020.
. R Heydarian, ‘At
a strategic crossroads’, op. cit., p. 56.
. Y Xie, The
South China Sea needs ASEAN more than ever, op. cit.
. A Acharya, ‘The
myth of ASEAN centrality?’ Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of
International and Strategic Affairs, 39(2), August 2017, pp. 273–279. ASEAN
centrality refers to the idea that
ASEAN should remain at the core of Asia-Pacific
regional institutions, processes and multinational frameworks.
. HE Rizal Sukma,
ASEAN and shaping the Indo-Pacific idea’, East Asia Forum, 19
. R Heydarian, ‘At
a strategic crossroads’, op. cit., p. 57.
. L Odgaard, ‘The
South China Sea: ASEAN’s security concerns about China’, Security Dialogue,
34(1), March 2003, pp. 11–23.
. R De Castro, ‘Limits of
intergovernmentalism: the Philippines’ changing strategy in the South China Sea
dispute and its impact on ASEAN’, Journal of Current Southeast Asian
Affairs, 39(3) 2020, p. 340.
. C Thayer, ‘ASEAN,
China and the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea’, SAIS Review of
International Affairs, 33(2), 2013, p. 76.
. R De Castro, ‘Limits
of intergovernmentalism’, op. cit., p. 351.
. D O’Neill, Dividing
ASEAN and conquering the South China Sea, Hong Kong University Press, 2018,
. R De Castro, ‘Limits
of intergovernmentalism’, op. cit.
. The 2016
Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling on the arbitration brought by
the Philippines against China is one of the major hurdles in COC negotiations.
The PCA ruled that China’s ‘nine-dash line’ had no legal basis, and that no
maritime features in the Spratly Islands are considered ‘islands’, meaning
that they do not generate claims to an EEZ or continental shelf. Despite being
a signatory to UNCLOS, China
has not accepted the 2016 PCA ruling.
. F Chang, ‘Uncertain
prospects’, op. cit.
. J Lee and
D Lee, ‘Understanding,
analysing and countering Chinese non-military efforts to increase support for, and
decrease desistance to, Beijing’s strategic and defence objectives in Southeast
Asia’, United States Studies Centre, 4 February 2020.
. T Takahashi, ‘What
China really wants from South China Sea Code of Conduct’, Nikkei Asia,
12 August 2019.
. Huong Thi Ha, ‘ASEAN
and the South China Sea Code of Conduct: raising the aegis of international law’,
Yushok Ishak Institute (ISEAS), 21 September 2020.
. NM Quang, ‘Negotiating an effective China-ASEAN South China Sea
Code of Conduct’, East
Asia Forum, July 2019.
. Huong Thi Ha, ‘ASEAN
and the South China Sea Code of Conduct’, op. cit.
. R Strating, ‘What
does the US Statement on the South China Sea means for Security in the Asia
Pacific?’, Australian Institute of International Affairs, 1 January 2021.
. G Poling, ‘How
significant is the new US South China Sea Policy?’ Center for Strategic
& International Studies, 14 July 2020.
. Linh Pham, ‘South
China Sea-related notes verbales might deal huge blow to China’s prestige’,
Hanoi Times, 6 August 2020.
Japan and the US were amongst
the nine countries that filed submissions to the UN.
. R Heydarian, ‘At
a strategic crossroads’, op. cit., p. 60.
. A Robles and Reuters, ‘Philippines won’t move an inch on South China Sea,
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