- By David BoscoDavid Bosco is a Foreign Policy contributing editor and assistant professor at American University's School of International Service. He is at work on a book about the International Criminal Court's first decade.
Last week’s ASEAN meetings–and the broader East Asia Summit–seem to have done little to resolve the regional organization’s internal debate over how to respond to China’s claims to the South China Sea. ASEAN members Cambodia and the Philippines, in particular, resumed their months-long dispute over whether and how to broach the issue in multilateral fora.
Writing in The Australian, journalist Philip Bowring argues that ASEAN has likely reached the end of its usefulness on the maritime dispute. What’s needed, he insists, is a more cohesive grouping of regional states to oppose China’s ambitious claims:
More talk at ASEAN meetings about codes of conduct is delusional stuff. The code, while loved by ASEAN foreign ministers, has done nothing to shield Vietnam and The Philippines from Chinese incursions into their 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zones. Malaysia and Brunei have so far escaped direct Chinese attention thanks to their small EEZs and island claims, but China’s long arm will reach their waters soon enough.
These countries plus Indonesia need to set up a special group, linked to ASEAN, that can build consensus on negotiating with China. Indonesia has to be a part because as the largest southeast state and implied leader of the Malay world it has much to lose diplomatically from China dominating the smaller states.
In this interview, ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan puts a more positive spin on recent developments:
I would say we have come a long way from July this year. Because July this year we could not issue a communique at all on this issue because of this issue.
Now the way in which the issue was brought up was very civil, was very courteous to each other. We have our interests in the stability and security of this particular body of waters. That’s pretty much the tone.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at email@example.com.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |