FD12: Friday 4:00 PM - 5:45 PM



Difference/Diffusion, Deference/Defi ance : Unpacking Chin a­ Southeast Asia Relations
Sponsor(s) :

Int erna ti onal Security Studies

Room: Continental 8, Hilton Union Square Chair Donald K. Emmerson, Stanford University Disc. Donald K. Emmerson, Stanf ord University Defe rence/Defi ance : How Does th e Philippin es Co pe with China ? Aileen Baviera, University of the Philippines Parsing the Dragon : Disaggregating China's Outlook on
Southeast Asia
li Mingjiang, Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore Deference/Defiance: South east Asia, China, and t he South China Sea Carlyle Alan Thayer, University of New Sout h Wales Deference/Defiance : How Does Vietn am Cope w ith Chin a? Alexander Vuving


Southeast  Asia,  China,  and  the  South  China  Sea  

Carlyle  Thayer  



Presentation  to  panel  on     Difference/Diffusion,  Deference/Defiance:  Unpacking   China-­‐Southeast  Asia  Relations    International  Studies  Association  Annual  Convention    Hilton  San  Francisco  Union  Square   San  Francisco,  April  5,  2013  



Deference/Defiance:    Southeast  Asia,  China,  and  the  South  China  Sea   Carlyle  A.  Thayer*  
Introduction   One   constant   throughout   history   that   has   governed   inter-­‐state   relations   between   China   and   Southeast   Asia   has   been   the   accommodation   of   smaller   and   weaker   states   to   China’s   preeminent   power.   In   the   decades   after   the   mid-­‐1960s,   as   Southeast   Asian   states  gradually  developed  a  sense  of  regional  identity,  their  interaction  with  the  major   powers   took   on   a   more   structured   and   institutional   nature   through   the   Association   of   South   East   Asian   Nations   (ASEAN)   and   other   multilateral   regional   institutions.   ASEAN   states   seek   to   enmesh   all   major   external   powers   in   ASEAN-­‐centric   multilateral   institutions  in  order  to  moderate  the  impact  of  their  rivalry  on  regional  security.  ASEAN   states   have   pursued   three   inter-­‐related   strategies   toward   this   objective:   economic   interdependence,  the  promotion  of  ASEAN  norms  and  soft-­‐balancing.   This   paper   argues   that   all   states   in   Southeast   Asia   seek   to   accommodate   China’s   rise   through   ASEAN-­‐centric   multilateral   arrangements. 1  This   is   a   long-­‐term   strategic   commitment   on   which   all   ten   ASEAN   members   have   reached   consensus.   ASEAN   has   been   largely   successfully   in   enmeshing   China   in   multilateral   economic   arrangements.   But   China’s   military   rise   and   assertiveness   in   the   South   China   Sea   since   2006-­‐07   has   exposed   differences   among   ASEAN’s   members,   and   weakened   their   ability   to   accommodate  China’s  military  power  through  multilateral  security  institutions.    


  Emeritus   Professor,   The   University   of   New   South   Wales   at   the   Australian   Defence   Force   Academy   in   Canberra.  Email:  c.thayer@adfa.edu.au  
1  Carlyle  A.  Thayer,  ”The  Rise  of  China  and  India:  Challenging  or  Reinforcing  Southeast  Asia’s  Autonomy?,”  

in   Ashley   J.   Tellis,   Travis   Tanner   and   Jessica   Keough,   eds.,   Strategic   Asia   2011-­‐12:   Asia   Responds   to   its   Rising  Powers—China  and  India   (Seattle:  National  Bureau  of  Asian  Research,  2011),  313-­‐346  and  Carlyle  A.   Thayer,   Southeast   Asia:   Patterns   of   Security   Cooperation,   ASPI   Strategy   Report   (Canberra:   Australian   Strategic  Policy  Institute,  September  2010).  



This   paper   argues   that   because   ASEAN   states   are   divided   in   their   threat   perceptions   they   pursue   different   bilateral   strategies   towards   China   exhibiting   differing   degrees   of   deference  and  defiance.2   This   paper   explores   these   differing   patterns   of   deference   and   defiance   by   focusing   on   China-­‐Southeast  Asia  relations  and  territorial  disputes  in  the  South  China  Sea.  This  paper   is   divided   into   five   parts.   Part   one   provides   an   overview   of   ASEAN’s   relations   with   China   in   a   multilateral   setting.   Part   two   examines   differing   threat   perceptions   of   China   by   ASEAN   states   on   territorial   disputes   in   the   South   China   Sea.   Part   three   examines   the   prospects  for  managing  South  China  Sea  disputes  through  a  Code  of  Conduct  between   China  and  ASEAN  states.  Part  four  discusses  the  U.S.  policy  of  rebalancing  and  its  impact   on  maritime  security  in  the  South  China  Sea.  Part  five  presents  conclusions.   1.  ASEAN-­‐China  Relations:  An  Overview   Multilateral  Relations   Formal   linkages   between   China   and   ASEAN   date   to   1991   when   ASEAN   granted   China   consultative  partner  status.  During  the  first  half  of  the  1990S,  China’s  economic  rise  was   viewed  by  Southeast  Asia  states  as  both  a  challenge  and  opportunity.  Southeast  Asian   states   initially   feared   that   China’s   economic   rise   would   be   at   their   expense   because   it   would  result  in  the  diversion  of  trade  and  investment.  ASEAN  states  also  feared  being   pulled   into   China’s   orbit   in   a   dependent   relationship   as   supplier   of   raw   materials.   These   fears   intensified   as   China   began   negotiations   for   entry   into   the   World   Trade   Organization.  Gradually,  ASEAN  states  began  to  view  China’s  economic  rise  as  the  main   engine  of  regional  growth  and  therefore  an  opportunity.  ASEAN  took  steps  to  enhance  


 My  discussion  on  threat  perception  has  been  influenced  by  discussions  with  Scott  Bentley  and  Patricia   Weitsman.  See:  Scott  Bentley,  “Southeast  Asia  Responds  to  China’s  Maritime  Law  Enforcement  Strategy:   Balancing   a   Perceived   Threat   by   Responding   in   Kind,”   M.A.   Thesis   (Southeast   Asian   Studies),   Ohio   University,   2013   and   Patricia   Weitsman,   Dangerous   Alliances:   Proponents   of   Peace,   Weapons   of   War   (Stanford  University  Press,  2004),  20-­‐21.      



their   unity   and   cohesion   by   forming   a   viable   ASEAN   Free   Trade   Area   to   better   enable   them  to  bargain  collectively  with  China.     In  1996,  China  was  accorded  official  Dialogue  Partner  status  by  ASEAN.  In  February  the   following   year,   ASEAN   and   China   formalized   their   cooperation   by   establishing   the   ASEAN-­‐China  Joint  Cooperation  Committee  “to  act  as  the  coordinator  for  all  the  ASEAN-­‐ China  mechanisms  at  the  working  level.”3  As  an  ASEAN  Dialogue  Partner,  China  regularly   participates  in  the  annual  ASEAN  Post-­‐Ministerial  Conference  consultation  process.  This   takes  the  form  of  a  meeting  between  ASEAN  and  its  ten  dialogue  partners  (ASEAN  Ten   Plus   Ten),   and   a   separate   meeting   between   ASEAN   members   and   each   of   its   dialogue   partners  (ASEAN  Ten  Plus  One).     A  major  turning  point  in  ASEAN-­‐China  economic  relations  was  reached  during  the  Asian   Financial   Crisis   of   1997-­‐98   when   China   not   only   refrained   from   devaluing   its   currency   but  also  contributed  to  regional  bail  out  packages.  China’s  policies  were  in  contrast  to   those   of   the   International   Monetary   Fund   (supported   by   the   United   States)   that   imposed   conditionality   on   its   loans.   As   a   result   ASEAN   member   came   to   view   China’s   economic   rise   more   as   an   opportunity   than   a   challenge.   China   was   perceived   to   be   Southeast  Asia’s  indispensable  –  but  not  only  -­‐  economic  partner.     The   process   of   enmeshing   China   advanced   in   late   2002   with   the   adoption   of   the   Framework   Agreement   on   Comprehensive   Economic   Cooperation.   This   agreement   laid   the   foundations   for   what   became   the   ASEAN-­‐China   Free   Trade   Area   (ACFTA).4  In   2003   and  2006,  ASEAN  and  China  further  institutionalized  their  relationship  buy  raising  their   relations   to   a   strategic   partnership   and   enhanced   strategic   partnership,   respectively.   ACFTA  came  force  in  January  2010  for  ASEAN’s  six  developed  economies  and  will  come   into  effect  for  ASEAN’s  four  least  developed  members  in  2015.    

3 4

Joint  Press  Release,  “The  First  ASEAN-­‐China  Joint  Cooperation  Committee  Meeting,”  Beijing,  February  26-­‐ 28,  1997,  http://www.aseansec.org/5880.htm.    This  is  also  abbreviated  CAFTA  for  China-­‐ASEAN  Free  Trade  Agreement.  



China’s  economic  rise  has  altered  the  region’s  political  economy  and  absorbed  regional   states   in   a   production   network   feeding   into   China’s   export-­‐orientated   manufacturing   industries.  China  not  only  buys  primary  commodities  and  natural  resources,  particularly   oil   and   gas,   but   electronic   parts   and   components.   China’s   economic   rise   also   has   resulted  in  the  displacement  of  the  United  States  as  the  major  trading  partner  for  most   Southeast  Asian  states.     Bilateral  Relations   Between   February   1999   and   December   2000,   China   negotiated   long-­‐term   cooperative   framework   arrangements   with   all   ten   ASEAN   members:   Vietnam,   Thailand,   Brunei,   Malaysia,   Singapore,   Indonesia,   the   Philippines,   Burma,   Laos   and   Cambodia. 5   Subsequently,   several   of   these   long-­‐term   cooperative   framework   agreements   were   enhanced   through   additional   joint   declarations   and/or   memoranda   of   understanding.   For  example,  in  April  2005  bilateral  relations  between  China  and  Indonesia  were  raised   to   a   strategic   partnership.6  At   a   summit   meeting   held   in   Kuala   Lumpur   in   late   2005,   China  and  Malaysia  agreed  to  expand  strategic  cooperation  by  promoting  the  exchange   of  information  in  non-­‐traditional  security  areas,  consultation  and  cooperation  in  defense   and  security  areas,  and  military  exchanges  between  the  two  countries.7     In  April  2006,   China   and   Cambodia   reached   agreement   on   a   Comprehensive   Partnership   for   Cooperation.   In   May   2007,   China   and   Thailand   signed   a   Joint   Action   Plan   for   Strategic   Cooperation   to   flesh   out   their   1999   cooperation   agreement.   In   June   2008,   following   a                                                                                                                   5  These   arrangements   were   variously   titled:   framework   agreement,   framework   document,   joint  
statement  and  joint  declaration.  For  a  detailed  analysis  consult:  Carlyle  A.  Thayer,  “China’s  ‘New  Security   Concept’  and  Southeast  Asia,”  in  David  W.  Lovell,  ed.,   Asia-­‐Pacific  Security:  Policy  Challenges  (Singapore:   Institute   of   Southeast   Asian   Studies:   2003),   92-­‐95   and   Carlyle   A.   Thayer,   “China   and   Southeast   Asia:   A   Shifting  Zone  of  Interaction,”  in  James  Clad,  Sean  M.  McDonald  and  Bruce  Vaughn,  eds.,   The  Borderlands   of   Southeast   Asia:   Geopolitics,   Terrorism,   and   Globalization,   Center   for   Strategic   Research,   Institute   of   National  Strategic  Studies  (Washington,  D.C.:  National  Defense  University  Press,  2011),    235-­‐261.  

Ronald   N.   Montaperto,   “Dancing   with   China,”   Comparative   Connections:   An   E-­‐Journal   on   East   Asian   Bilateral  Relations  7,  no.  2  (2005),  http://csis.org/files/media/csis/pubs/0502qchina_seasia.pdf.  In  January   2010  China  and  Indonesia  reached  agreed  to  sign  a  Plan  of  Action  to  implement  this  agreement.      

Robert  Sutter,  “Emphasizing  the  Positive;  Continued  Wariness,”   Comparative   Connections:  An  E-­‐Journal   on  East  Asian  Bilateral  Relations  7,  no.  4  (2005),     http://csis.org/files/media/csis/pubs/0504qchina_seasia.pdf.  



summit  of  party  leaders  in  Beijing,  Vietnam  and  China  raised  their  bilateral  relations  to  a   strategic   partnership,   and   a   year   later   this   was   upgraded   to   a   strategic   cooperative   partnership.     2.  Threat  Perceptions   The  “China  Threat”   During  the  three  decades  following  the  formation  of  ASEAN  most  of  its  members  viewed   China  as  a  threat  to  regional  security  because  of  its  support  for  communist  insurgencies.   In   the   early   1990s   ASEAN   member   became   concerned   about   rising   Sino-­‐Vietnamese   tensions  in  the  South  China  Sea  and  this  reinforced  their  earlier  concerns  about  Chinese   assertive   behaviour.   By   the   second   half   of   the   1990s,   Southeast   Asian   preoccupations   turned   from   concern   over   the   “China   threat”   to   the   implications   of   China’s   economic   rise   and   its   impact   on   the   region. 8  In   1994,   ASEAN   and   China   agreed   to   open   consultations   on   political   and   security   issues   and   the   1st   China-­‐ASEAN   Senior   Officials   Meeting  was  held  in  Hangzhou  in  April  1995.  Also  in  1994,  China  became  a  member  of   the  ASEAN  Regional  Forum  (ARF).     China,  arguably  ,  was  socialized  into  ASEAN  norms  as  a  result  of  this  experience.  China,   which   was   initially   dismissive   of   multilateral   arrangements,   soon   came   to   appreciate   that  it  could  benefit  from  engagement.  China  then  assumed  a  proactive  role  in  the  ARF’s   inter-­‐sessional   work   program   related   to   confidence   building   measures.   In   2003,   China   launched   a   major   initiative   to   further   its   new   concept   of   security   by   successfully   proposing  the  creation  of  a  Security  Policy  Conference  comprised  of  senior  military  and   civilian   officials   drawn   from   all   ARF   members.   Finally,   China   has   been   a   strong   proponent  of  cooperative  measures  to  address  non-­‐traditional  security  challenges.   In   response   to   regional   concerns   over   “the   China   threat”   in   the   1990s,   Chinese   strategists   and   policy   makers   began   to   consider   how   to   assuage   Southeast   Asian   concerns.   The   result   was   China’s   “new   security   concept”   that   was   first   presented   to   a                                                                                                                  

 Evelyn  Goh,  “Southeast  Asian  Perspectives  on  the  China  Challenge,”   The  Journal  of  Strategic  Studies   30,   nos.  4-­‐5  (August-­‐October  2007):  809-­‐832.  



meeting  of  the  ASEAN  Regional  Forum  in  1997.9  China’s  new  security  concept  signaled   Beijing’s   intention   to   pursue   a   policy   of   cooperative   multilateralism   with   ASEAN   and   the   ARF.   Concerns   about   Chinese   assertiveness   in   the   South   China   Sea   largely   dissipated   after  the  signing  of  the  DOC  in  November  2002  and  China’s  accession  to  the  Treaty  of   Amity  and  Cooperation  (TAC)  the  following  year.  China  was  the  first  external  power  to   accede   to   the   protocol   endorsing   ASEAN’s   TAC   and   undertook   in   writing   “faithfully   to   perform  and  carry  out  all  the  stipulations  therein  contained.”10   China’s   interaction   with   ASEAN   arguably   has   led   to   China’s   socialization   into   ASEAN   norms.  This  was  demonstrated  in  2003  when  China  established  a  strategic  partnership   with  ASEAN.  This  was  the  first  formal  agreement  of  this  type  for  both  ASEAN  and  China.   The   joint   declaration   was   wide-­‐ranging   and   included   a   provision   for   the   initiation   of   a   new  security  dialogue  as  well  as  general  cooperation  in  political  matters.  The  following   year   ASEAN   and   China   agreed   to   a   five-­‐year   Plan   of   Action   (2005-­‐2010)   to   raise   their   interaction  to  the  level  of  “enhanced  strategic  partnership.”     China’s   embrace   of   the   ARF   stood   in   contrast   to   the   United   States   and   the   publicity   accorded   in   2005   to   Condoleezza   Rice   who   became   the   first   Secretary   of   State   not   to   attend  an  ARF  ministerial  meeting  since  its  creation.  Secretary  Rice  was  also  absent  at   the  ARF  ministerial  meeting  in  2007.     Chinese  Assertiveness  in  the  South  China  Sea   In   2005,   Southeast   Asian   states   became   increasingly   concerned   about   the   growth   of   Chinese   naval   power   particularly   after   satellite   imagery   confirmed   that   China   was   constructing   a   major   naval   base   on   Hainan   island.     In   2006-­‐07,   when   China   adopted   a   policy   of   “rights   protection”   in   the   South   China   Sea,11  its   actions   provoked   differing   security   concerns   among   ASEAN   members,   now   expanded   to   ten   states   with   the                                                                                                                  

Carlyle   A.   Thayer,   “China’s   ‘New   Security   Concept’   and   Southeast   Asia,”   In   Asia-­‐Pacific   Security:   Policy   Challenges  ed.  David  W.  Lovell  (Singapore:  Institute  of  Southeast  Asian  Studies,  2003):  89-­‐107.  

 Instrument   of   Accession   to   the   Treaty   of   Amity   and   Cooperation   in   Southeast   Asia,   October   8,   2003,   http://www.aseansec.org/15271.htm.  

 Bentley,  “Southeast  Asia  Responds  to  China’s  Maritime  Law  Enforcement  Strategy,”  6.  



addition  of  Vietnam  in  1995,  Laos  and  Myanmar  in  1997,  and  Cambodia  in  1999.  After   2007,   renewed   Chinese   assertiveness   in   the   South   China   Sea   once   again   reawakened   concerns   about   China’s   intentions. 12  In   2009,   China   documented   its   claims   to   indisputable  sovereignty  over  the  South  China  Sea  by  officially  tabling  a  map  with  nine   dotted   lines   to   the   United   Nations   Commission   on   Extended   Continental   Shelves.   This   map   implied   that   China   was   claiming   eighty   percent   of   the   maritime   area.   By   2012   differing   threat   perceptions   of   China’s   actions   resulted   in   a   division   of   ASEAN   into   three   broad   groupings:   the   claimant   states   (sub-­‐divided   into   two   groups   the   Philippines   and   Vietnam,   and   Malaysia   and   Brunei),   the   maritime   non-­‐claimant   states   (Indonesia   and   Singapore),  and  the  mainland  states  (Cambodia,  Laos,  Myanmar  and  Thailand).     This   three-­‐way   division   was   most   evident   in   discussions   at   the   July   2012   ASEAN   Ministerial   Meeting   (AMM)   Retreat   that   failed   to   issued   a   joint   communiqué   due   to   disagreement  over  wording  of  several  paragraphs  dealing  with  the  South  China  Sea.  The   Philippines   and   Vietnam,   which   held   the   strongest   threat   perceptions,   respectively,   wanted  to  include  reference  to  the  stand-­‐off  at  Scarborough  Shoal  and  the  award  of  oil   concessions   inside   Vietnam’s   Exclusive   Economic   Zone   (EEZ)   by   the   China   National   Offshore  Oil  Company  (CNOOC).  Malaysia,  Indonesia,  and  Singapore  strongly  pushed  for   a   compromise   that   took   these   concerns   into   account   in   order   to   maintain   a   unified   ASEAN  position  vis-­‐à-­‐vis  China.  Among  the  mainland  states,  Cambodia  strongly  opposed   any  references  that  implied  a  dispute  between  China  and  ASEAN.  Cambodia  argued  that   the   concerns   expressed   by   the   Philippines   and   Vietnam   were   purely   bilateral   thus   reflecting  China’s  policy  position.  Thailand,  Myanmar  and  Laos  were  perfunctory  in  their   interventions,  generally  supported  a  unified  ASEAN  stance,  but  were  content  to  accept   Cambodia’s  lead  as  ASEAN  Chair.13                                                                                                                  

Carlyle  A.  Thayer,   Recent  Developments  in  the  South  China  Sea:  Grounds  for  Cautious  Optimism?,  RSIS   Working  Paper  No.  220  (Singapore:  S.  Rajaratnam  School  of  International  Studies,  Nanyang  Technological   University,  December  14,  2010).    

 Carlyle   A.   Thayer,   "ASEAN’S   Code   of   Conduct   in   the   South   China   Sea:   A   Litmus   Test   for   Community-­‐ Building?,"   The  Asia-­‐Pacific  Journal,  vol.  10,  issue  34,  No.  4,  August  20,  2012,  1-­‐23  and  Carlyle  A.  Thayer,   "Deference/Defiance:  Southeast  Asia,  China,  and  the  South  China  Sea,"  Paper  to  the  workshop  The  Deer   st and   the   Dragon:   Southeast   Asia   and   China   in   the   21   Century,   co-­‐sponsored   by   Southeast   Asia   Forum,  



Threat   Perceptions.   Claimant   states   that   perceived   China’s   actions   as   directly   threatening   to   their   vital   national   interests   adopted   policies   that   most   strongly   opposed   (or  defied)  Chinese  pressures.  Maritime  non-­‐claimant  states,  who  felt  less  threatened  by   China’s  actions,  tried  to  insulate  themselves  from  Chinese  assertiveness  by  pressing  for   an   ASEAN   united   front.   Mainland   states   that   were   not   directly   threatened   by   Chinese   assertiveness  gave  greater  priority  to  accommodating  China.   Claimant  States.  The  threat  perceptions  held  by  the  claimant  states  have  been  shaped   by  a  number  of  factors  including  geographical  proximity  to  China,  the  legacy  of  historical   interactions,   and   their   estimation   of   Chinese   intentions   in   the   near   term.   This   sub-­‐ section  reviews  threat  perceptions  held  by  the  Philippines  and  Vietnam,  the  two  states   most   affected   by   Chinese   assertiveness,   and   threat   perceptions   held   by   Malaysia   and   Brunei.   The   Philippines   under   President   Benigno   Aquino,   has   chosen   to   engage   in   higher-­‐profile   acts   of   defiance   towards   China   than   Vietnam.   The   Philippines   does   not   share   a   land   border   with   China   but   is   the   nearest   maritime   claimant   state.   The   present   day   Philippines   was   not   a   unified   state   in   the   pre-­‐colonial   era   and   thus   has   no   historical   legacy   of   tributory   diplomacy   with   China   comparable   to   Vietnam.   During   the   Spanish   colonial  era  Manila  was  linked  in  a  trans-­‐Pacific  trading  network  with  China.  During  the   Cold  War  years  the  Philippines  adopted  an  anti-­‐communist  foreign  policy  and  supported   the  containment  of  mainland  China  as  an  ally  of  the  United  States.  The  Philippines  also   maintained  close  with  the  Republic  of  China  on  Taiwan.   The   Philippines’s   threat   perceptions   have   been   shaped   by   (1)   China’s   occupation   of   Mischief   Reef   in   1995   and   the   failure   of   ASEAN   diplomacy   to   prevent   China   from   consolidating  its  presence  there,  (2)  the  continual  encroachment  by  Chinese  fishermen   into  Philippine   waters,   (3)   harassment   of   Filipino  fishermen   operating   in   the   Philippines’   EEZ   and   (4)   Chinese   actions   to   disrupt   the   exploitation   and   production   of   oil   and   gas                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
Shorenstein   Asia-­‐Pacific   Research   Center,   Stanford   University   and   the   China   Programme,   Institute   of   Defence   and   Security   Studies,   S.   Rajaratnam   School   of   International   Studies,   Nanyang   Technological   University,  Singapore,  November  15-­‐16,  2012.  This  paper  is  available  at  Scribd.com.  



resources  in  the  Philippines’  Exclusive  Economic  Zone  (Recto  Bank  and  the  Malampaya   Field).   The   Malampaya   Field,   for   example,   provides   40-­‐45   per   cent   of   Luzon's   power   generation  requirements.   The  Philippines’  threat  perceptions  are  heightened  by  the  run  down  state  of  its  armed   forces,   the   problematic   nature   of   its   alliance   with   the   United   States,   and   increased   incursions   and   assertiveness   by   Chinese   paramilitary   ships   into   Philippine   waters.   Therefore,  the  Philippines’  perceives  Chinese  assertiveness  in  the  “West  Philippines  Sea”   as  a  threat  to  its  vital  national  security  interests  because  the  Philippines  lacks  the  means   to  prevent  China  from  (1)  further  occupying  and  constructing  facilities  on  features  lying   within   its   maritime   jurisdiction   and   (2)   interfering   with   the   exercise   of   sovereignty   by   the  Philippines’  Coast  Guard  and  Philippine  Navy.   Efforts  by  The  Philippines  to  engage  China  diplomatically  have  been  unsuccessful  in  the   face   of   increased   Chinese   assertiveness.   The   Philippines   has   responded   by   employing   “weapons   of   the   weak”   —   high-­‐profile   defiance   of   China   including   private   and   public   diplomatic  protests  (including  threats  to  raise  territorial  disputes  at  the  United  Nations),   diplomatic  efforts  to  forge  a  united  ASEAN  policy  on  the  South  China  Sea  and  lobbying   external  powers  for  support.  In  addition,  the  Philippines  has  revitalized  its  alliance  with   the   United   States   and   procured   weapons   to   modernize   it   armed   forces   and   increase   their  capacity  for  territorial  defence.   Despite  repeated  Chinese  efforts  to  prevent  the  Philippines  from  internationalizing  the   South   China   Sea   dispute,   the   Philippines   lodged   a   Notification   of   Claim   seeking   the   intervention   of   a   United   Nations   Arbitral   Tribunal   to   rule   on   the   legality   of   China’s   nine-­‐ dash   line   claim   to   the   South   China   Sea,   occupation   of   low   tide   elevations   and   interference  with  freedom  on  navigation.  The  Philippines  undertook  this  action  after  the   failure   of   prolonged   diplomatic   efforts   to   secure   an   agreement   with   China   and,   more   significantly,   after   China’s   virtual   annexation   of   Scarborough   Shoal.   The   Philippines   acted  unilaterally  without  prior  consultations  with  other  ASEAN  members.  



Vietnam   shares   land   and   maritime   borders   with   China.   Vietnam’s   historical   legacy   includes   selective   cultural   and   political   borrowing   from   China,   resistance   to   Chinese   invasions,  and  a  well-­‐developed  diplomatic  practice  of  accommodation  to  China.   Vietnam’s  threat  perceptions  are  shaped  by  recent  experience  in  which  China  used  force   to  secure  the  western  Paracels  (1974)  and  Johnson  South  and  Fiery  Cross  reefs  (1988).   Vietnam  views  Chinese  assertiveness  in  the  South  China  Sea  as  a  deliberate  attempt  to   disrupt   its   national   development   plans   contained   in   the   “Maritime   Strategy   of   Viet   Nam   to  2020,”  adopted  in  2007.14  This  strategy  lays  out  plans  to  integrate  Vietnam’s  coastal   economy  with  the  resources  (marine  and  hydrocarbon)  in  its  EEZ  and  continental  shelf   and   waters   surrounding   Vietnamese-­‐occupied   features   in   the   South   China   Sea.   Vietnamese   economists   estimate   that   by   2020   the   maritime   economy   will   contribute   between  53-­‐55  per  cent  of  GDP  and  55-­‐60  per  cent  of  exports.15   In   2007-­‐08,   China   responded   to   this   strategy   by   putting   pressure   on   foreign   oil   companies   to   pull   out   of   any   deals   to   assist   Vietnam   with   its   offshore   oil   and   gas   exploration  activities.  In  addition,  in  mid-­‐2011  Chinese  paramilitary  enforcement  vessels   cut   the   cables   of   survey   ships   carrying   out   seismic   surveys   in   Vietnam’s   EEZ.   These   Chinese   actions   are   viewed   as   a   direct   threat   to   Vietnam’s   vital   national   interests   because   they   are   perceived   as   deliberate   attempts   to   disrupt   Vietnam’s   national   development  plans.   Chinese   harassment   and   ill   treatment   of   Vietnamese   fishermen   in   waters   around   the   Parcels  Islands  and  intrusions  into  Vietnam’s  EEZ  by  Chinese  fishermen,  are  not  viewed   as  gravely  as  threats  to  its  offshore  oil  and  gas  industry.  Nevertheless,  the  Vietnamese   government   feels   compelled   to   respond   with   diplomatic   protests   because   Chinese   actions  are  perceived  to  be  a  threat  to  Vietnamese  sovereignty  and  because  they  illicit   strong  anti-­‐China  nationalist  sentiment.                                                                                                                  

 “Chien   luoc   bien   Viet   Nam   den   Nam   2020   (Vietnam’s   Maritime   Strategy   to   2020)”,   Resolution   09-­‐ NQ/TW,  9  February  2007.  Prime  Minister  Nguyen  Tan  Dung  later  approved  Decision  568,  28  April  2010,  to   develop  Vietnam’s  sea  and  islands-­‐based  economy  by  2020.  

 “Thong  Bao  Hoi  Nghi  (Plenum  Communiqué)”,  Tap  chi  Cong  san  no.  772  (February  2007):  5.  



Vietnam   pursues   simultaneous   policies   of   deference   and   defiance   towards   China   through   a   strategy   it   describes   as   “cooperation   and   struggle.” 16  Vietnam   seeks   to   promote   cooperation   with   China   across   the   full   spectrum   of   bilateral   relations.   At   the   same   time,   Vietnam   “struggles”   (or   resists)   China   when   its   national   interests   are   threatened.  Vietnam  is  concerned  to  prevent  any  maritime  incident  from  escalating  to   the   point   where   it   is   drawn   into   an   armed   clash   with   superior   Chinese   military   forces   and/or  provoking  China  to  seize  an  islet  or  rock  that  Vietnam  presently  occupies.     Vietnam   seeks   to   prevent   its   territorial   dispute   with   China   from   spilling   over   and   affecting   bilateral   relations   in   general.   In   2009,   for   example,   Vietnam’s   relations   with   China  were  raised  from  a  strategic  partnership  to  a  strategic  cooperative  partnership  in   spite   of   tensions   in   the   South   China   Sea.17  Vietnam   manages   its   relations   with   China   through   a   Joint   Steering   Committee   that   oversees   all   aspects   of   their   bilateral   relations.   The  Steering  Committee  is  co-­‐chaired  by  deputy  prime  ministers  (who  are  also  members   of   their   respective   party   Politburos).   The   Joint   Steering   Committee   has   continued   to   meet   despite   rising   tensions   in   the   South   China   Sea.   In   addition,   Vietnam   maintains   a   dense   network   of   high-­‐level   party,   government   and   military   contacts   and   exchanges   hundreds  of  delegations  each  year.  Vietnam  has  also  taken  steps  to  dampen  domestic   anti-­‐China  nationalist  sentiment  by  gagging  the  press  and  suppressing  public  anti-­‐China   demonstrations.   Vietnam’s  “struggles”  against  China  in  response  to  specific  incidents  in  the  South  China   Sea,  such  as  harassment  of  its  fishermen  and  Chinese  intrusions  into  its  EEZ,  by  issuing   diplomatic  protests.  Vietnamese  Maritime  Police  chase  away  Chinese  fishermen  and  on   occasion   “muscle”   Chinese   maritime   enforcement   ships     Vietnam’s   responses   are                                                                                                                  

 Carlyle   A.   Thayer,   “The   Tyranny   of   Geography:   Vietnamese   Strategies   to   Constrain   China   in   the   South   China  Sea,”  Contemporary  Southeast  Asia,  33(3),  2011,  348-­‐369.    

 Carlyle  A.  Thayer,  “Vietnam  on  the  Road  to  Global  Integration:  Forging  Strategic  Partnerships  Through   International   Security   Cooperation,”   Keynote   Paper   to   the   Opening   Plenary   Session,   4th   International   Vietnamese   Studies   Conference,   co-­‐sponsored   by   the   Vietnam   Academy   of   Social   Sciences   and   Vietnam   National  University,  Hanoi,  Vietnam,  November  26-­‐30,  2012,  13.  Available  at  Scribd.com.    



carefully  calibrated  acts  designed  to  underscore  Vietnam’s  sovereignty  without  unduly   provoking   China.   At   the   same   time,   Vietnam   engages   in   self-­‐help   modernization   of   its   naval,   air   and   missile   forces   to   present   a   credible   counter-­‐intervention   deterrent.18   Finally,   Vietnam   engages   in   hedging   by   encouraging   the   major   external   powers,   particularly  the  United  States,  to  contribute  to  maritime  security  by  balancing  Chinese   military  power.   Vietnam-­‐Philippine   Interaction.   In   March   2012,   during   discussions   held   in   Hanoi   between   Philippine   Navy   Flag   Officer   in   Command   Vice   Admiral   Alexander   Pama   and   Vietnam   People’s   Army   Navy   Commander   Admiral   Nguyen   Van   Hien   agreement   was   reached   to   conduct   coordinated   maritime   patrols   in   waters   where   the   two   countries   have   overlapping   claims.19  These   patrols   will   be   conducted   under   the   terms   of   the   “SOP   [Standard   Operating   Procedures]   on   Personnel   Interaction   in   the   Vicinity   of   Southeast   Cay   and   the   Northeast   Cay   Island   between   the   VPN   [Vietnam   People’s   Navy]   and   PN   [Philippine   Navy]”   reached   in   October   2011.   Admirals   Pama   and   Hien   also   signed   a   Memorandum   of   Understanding   on   the   Enhancement   of   Mutual   Cooperation   and   Information  Sharing  between  the  two  navies;  the  MOU  includes  a  provision  for  a  hotline   between  their  naval  operations  centres  and  possible  cooperation  in  shipbuilding.   Other   Claimant   States.   Malaysia   and   Brunei   are   further   removed   from   China   geographically   than   Vietnam   and   the   Philippines.   China’s   nine-­‐dash   line   claim   to   the   South   China   Sea   cuts   into   their   EEZs   and   includes   features   in   the   South   China   Sea   occupied  by  Malaysia.  Brunei  does  not  claim  any  feature.  The  Sultanates  of  Malacca  and   Brunei   interacted   with   China   as   tributory   states   during   the   pre-­‐colonial   era   and   benefitted   from   the   trade   relationship.   Malaysia’s   present   day   policies   towards   China   are  unaffected  by  past  Chinese  support  for  communist  insurgents  on  peninsula  Malaya.  

18 19

 Carlyle  A.  Thayer,  “Strategic  Posture  Review:  Vietnam,”  World  Politics  Review,  January  15,  2013.  1-­‐11.  

 According  to  a  statement  released  by  the  Philippines  Navy  quoted  in  Rene  Acosts,  ‘PHL,  Vietnam  navies   to   jointly   patrol   Spratlys,’   Business   Mirror,   March   27,   2012   and   Barbara   Mae   Dacanay,   ‘Philippines   and   Vietnam  agree  to  hold  joint  war  games  in  the  South  China  Sea,’  Gulf  News,  April  1,  2012.  



Neither  Malaysia  nor  Brunei  share  the  same  degree  of  threat  held  by  the  Philippines  and   Vietnam  towards  China.  Malaysian-­‐occupied  features  lie  to  the  southwest  of  the  main   Spratly  islands.  Malaysia’s  and  Brunei’s  EEZs  lie  at  the  southern  extremity  of  China  nine-­‐ dash   line   claim.   Neither   has   experienced   the   same   degree   of   physical   intimidation   experienced   by   the   Philippines   and   Vietnam.   Malaysia   has   substantial   economic   and   commercial   ties   with   China,   while   Brunei’s   wealth   mitigates   against   possible   Chinese   political  pressures  and  economic  sanctions.   Malaysia   and   Brunei   have   both   adopted   strategies   in   dealing   with   China   designed   to   keep   territorial   and   maritime   disputes   as   low   key   as   possible   though   quiet   diplomacy.   Malaysia  rarely  publicizes  encounters  between  Chinese  paramilitary  enforcement  ships   and   its   fishermen   and   state   oil   company   vessels.   In   September   2012,   for   example,   Malaysia   did   not   publicly   protest   when   a   China   Marine   Surveillance   ship   confrontd   a   vessel  operated  by  Petronas,  the  state  oil  company,  in  Malaysia’s  EEZ.  Even  the  March   2013  visit  by  a  squadron  of  four  modern  Chinese  warships  to  James  Shoal  off  the  coast   of  Sarawak  failed  to  elicit  a  public  protest.       Malaysia  maintains  relatively  modern  air  and  naval  forces  and  is  confident  in  their  ability   to  respond  if  Malaysian  sovereignty  is  threatened.  Malaysia  continually  modernizes  its   naval   and   air   forces   and   recently   acquired   conventional   submarines.   Brunei,   which   maintains   a   modest   armed   force,   calculates   that   its   interdependence   with   Malaysia   and   Indonesia  provides  a  measure  of  insulation  against  Chinese  abrasiveness.   Both  Malaysia  and  Brunei  support  ASEAN  and  its  efforts  to  hammer  out  an  agreed  Code   of   Conduct   for   the   South   China   Sea   as   the   best   policy   for   protecting   their   maritime   interests.  At  the  same  time,  both  engage  in  hedging  behavior  through  defense  exercises   and   cooperation   with   the   United   States   and   other   external   powers.   Malaysia,   through   the   Five   Power   Defence   Arrangements   (FPDA),   has   encouraged   robust   naval   exercises   among  its  members  to  defend  the  approaches  to  the  Malacca  Straits.20  The  FPDA  does                                                                                                                  

 Carlyle   A.   Thayer,   “The   Five   Power   Defence   Arrangements   at   Forty   (1971-­‐2011),”   in   Daljit   Singh   and   Pushpa  Thambipillai,  eds.,   Southeast  Asian  Affairs  2012  (Singapore:  Institute  of  Southeast  Asian  Studies,   2012),    61-­‐72.  



not   include   eastern   Malaysia   (Sabah   and   Sarawak),   but   has   responsibility   for   the   area   defence   of   peninsula   Malaysia,   presumably   including   naval   and   air   threats   from   the   South  China  Sea.   Maritime   Non-­‐Claimant   States.   Singapore   and   Indonesia   do   not   have   claims   to   disputed   territory  in  the  South  China  Sea.  China’s  nine-­‐dash  line  claim  overlaps  with  Indonesia’s   continental   shelf   off   Natuna   Island.   Indonesia   has   been   unable   to   obtain   China’s   clarification  of  its  claims  and  whether  this  creates  a  demarcation  dispute  between  them.   Singapore’s   maritime   space   is   limited   and   it   is   not   a   direct   party   to   South   China   Sea   territorial   disputes;   its   interests   lie   in   secure   sea   lines   of   communication   through   the   South  China  Sea  and  the  eastern  approaches  to  the  Straits  of  Malacca  and  Singapore.   Both   Singapore   and   Indonesia   encourage   the   enmeshment   of   China   in   ASEAN-­‐centric   multilateral   institutions.   Indonesia   and   Singapore   do   not   feel   directly   threatened   by   Chinese   assertiveness   towards   the   Philippines   and   Vietnam.   They   are   both   concerned   that  maritime  tensions  are  managed  through  regional  diplomacy  in  which  ASEAN  plays  a   central   role.   Both   caution   China   and   the   claimant   states   not   to   provoke   or   over   react   to   incidents  in  the  South  China  Sea.     Both  Indonesia  and  Singapore  support  a  unified  ASEAN  policy  on  a  Code  of  Conduct  for   the  South  China  Sea.  Both  played  a  leading  role  behind  the  scenes  in  trying  to  broker  a   compromise   on   the   wording   of   the   joint   communiqué   at   the   2012   45th   ASEAN   Ministerial   Meeting   (AMM).   Indonesia   has   been   proactive   in   promoting   ASEAN   consensus   behind   a   draft   COC   for   the   South   China   Sea.   Singapore   publicly   responded   to   the   Philippines   legal   action   against   China   by   calling   attention   to   the   fact   that   it   was   submitted   without   prior   consultation   with   ASEAN.   Diplomats   from   Indonesia   and   Singapore  privately  express  concern  that  the  Philippines’  unilateral  action  may  set  back   if  not  scuttle  prospects  for  resumption  of  negotiations  with  China  on  a  COC.   Yet   Singapore   and   Indonesia,   on   occasion,   have   taken   a   public   stance   critical   of   China   when  their  interests  are  affected.  Singapore,  publicly  chastised  China  when  it  used  the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            



opportunity   of   a   friendly   port   visit   by   its   newest   China   Marine   Surveillance   vessel   to   engage  in  highly  publicized  “rights  protection”  activities  in  the  South  China  Sea  prior  to   arrival.  Indonesia  challenged  the  legal  basis  of  China’s  nine-­‐dash  line  claim  to  the  South   China  Sea  buy  lodging  a  protest  with  the  United  Nations.   Mainland  States.  None  of  the  four  countries  grouped  in  the  mainland  states  category  —   Cambodia,  Laos,  Myanmar  and  Thailand  —  border  the  South  China  Sea  or  have  maritme   disputes  with  China.  Myanmar  and  Laos  share  a  land  border  with  China.  All  four  states   had  tributory  relations  with  China  during  the  pre-­‐colonial  era.  Myanmar  (then  Burma),   Cambodia   and   Laos   all   established   diplomatic   relations   with   the   People’s   Republic   of   China   after   1949.   Although   all   four   states   experienced   domestic   communist-­‐led   insurgencies   this   legacy   has   not   been   an   impediment   to   contemporary   relations.   The   present   communist   government   in   Laos   owes   China   a   degree   of   gratitude   for   past   diplomatic   and   other   support   in   its   struggle   for   power.   Myanmar   (then   Burma)   developed   ties   with   China   that   have   been   characterized   as   “elder   brother-­‐younger   brother”   relations   despite   endemic   communist   insurgency   since   independence.   Significantly,   China   supported   the   Myanmar   regime   after   the   suppression   of   the   pro-­‐ democracy   movement   in   1988-­‐90   and   the   two   countries   developed   close   economic,   political  and  defence  ties  as  a  result.   Thailand     adopted   a   strong   anti-­‐communist   policy   during   the   Cold   War   and   supported   U.S.-­‐led   containment   strategies.   Despite   this   legacy,   in   the   late   1980s   and   1990s   successive   Thai   governments   developed   good   political   and   economic   relations   with   China.  In  2001,  with  the  election  of  Thaksin  Shinwatra,  Thailand  moved  to  develop  ever-­‐ closer  relations  with  China  in  order  to  benefit  from  its  economic  rise.  China’s  support  for   the   Khmer   Rouge   has   not   prevented   the   Hun   Sen   government   from   pivoting   towards   Beijing.     All   of   the   mainland   states   have   adopted   policies   of   accommodating   China’s   rise   through   ASEAN’s   multilateral   structures   and   through   the   maintenance   of   good   bilateral   relations.   Their   main   motivation   is   to   benefit   economically.   The   threat   perceptions   of  



mainland  states  are  overwhelmingly  focused  on  non-­‐traditional  security  issues  and  the   impact  of  illegal  Chinese  migrants  on  domestic  security.     None  of  the  mainland  states  wants  to  be  drawn  into  South  China  Sea  disputes  or  great   power   rivalry.   Laos   and   Myanmar   were   silent   when   this   issue   was   raised   at   the   2010   meeting  of  the  ASEAN  Regional  Forum.  Thailand  watered  down  references  to  China  in   the  joint  statement  issued  by  the  2nd  ASEAN-­‐United  States  Leaders’  Meeting  held  in  New   York   in   September   2010.   Myanmar   and   Cambodia   were   silent   when   South   China   Sea   issues   were   raised   at   the   2011   East   Asia   Summit   by   sixteen   of   its   eighteen   members.     With   the   exception   of   Cambodia,   the   three   other   mainland   states   made   perfunctory   interventions   at   the   45th   AMM   in   2012.   Thailand,   as   the   current   country   coordinator   for   ASEAN’s  relations  with  China,  seeks  to  play  a  mediating  role  on  South  China  Sea  issues.   Cambodia’s  position  on  the  South  China  Sea  was  largely  derivative  of  its  role  as  ASEAN   Chair   in   2012.   The   Hun   Sen   regime   has   a   self-­‐interest   in   responding   favourably   to   Chinese   diplomatic   lobbying.   Chinese   economic   and   commercial   support   provides   considerable   resources   that   benefit   the   regime   and   its   capacity   to   remain   in   power.   China  has  provided  assistance  to  the  Hun  Sen  regime  opportunistically  when  European   countries  and  the  United  States  have  imposed  sanctions  following  human  rights  abuses.   Cambodia’s   diplomatic   behavior   illustrates   that   its   self-­‐interests   override   its   commitment   to   ASEAN   consensus   making   on   South   China   Sea   issues.   In   sum,   the   Hun   Sen  regime  does  not  see  Chinese  assertiveness  in  the  South  China  Sea  as  threatening  its   interests.   No  Southeast  Asian  state  wants  to  be  drawn  into  China’s  orbit  to  such  an  extent  that  its   autonomy   is   seriously   compromised   through   economic   dependency.   All   the   mainland   states  engage  in  hedging.  Thailand  is  a  U.S.  treaty  ally  and  recently  agreed  to  revitalizing   its   relations   with   the   United   States.   During   the   November   2012   visit   to   Bangkok   President  Barack  Obama,  Thai  Prime  Minister  Yingluck:  
 welcomed  the  United  States’  policy  of  forging  a  stronger  partnership  with  the  Asia-­‐Pacific  region  and   the  support  of  the  United  States  for  ASEAN’s  centrality  in  the  region’s  development  and  integration,  


especially  through  the  United  States’  engagement  at  the  ASEAN-­‐U.S.  Summit  and  the  East  Asia  Summit   21 (EAS).  

Cambodia   has   quietly   nurtured   a   growing   defence   relationship   with   the   United   States,22   while   Myanmar   has   responded   favourably   to   more   proactive   engagement   with   the   United  States.  This  year  U.S.  diplomats  report  that  Laos  is  more  amenable  to  developing   defence  ties  with  the  United  States.   3.  Managing  South  China  Sea  Disputes   ASEAN   has   been   engaged   on   South   China   Sea   issues   for   over   two   decades.   In   1992   China’s   adoption   of   the   Law   on   Territorial   Waters   and   Contiguous   Zones   raised   alarm   bells  among  littoral  states.  They  viewed  this  law  as  a  claim  to  the  entire  South  China  Sea.   China’s   oil   exploration   activities   in   the   South   China   Sea   brought   it   into   conflict   with   Vietnam  and  led  both  countries  to  scramble  to  occupy  virtually  all  the  islets  and  rocks   that  they  could.  In  response  to  rising  tensions,  ASEAN  issued  its  first  formal  statement   on  the  South  China  Sea  in  July  1992.23   Southeast  Asian  anxieties  about  Chinese  assertiveness  were  aroused  again  in  1995  when   China   occupied   Mischief   Reef   claimed   by   the   Philippines.   In   response,   ASEAN   foreign   ministers   issued   their   second   statement   on   the   South   China   Sea.   ASEAN   expressed   its   “serious   concern”   and   urged   the   concerned   (unnamed)   parties   “to   refrain   from   taking   actions  that  de-­‐stabilize  the  situation.”24     The   Philippines,   as   the   aggrieved   party,   sought   the   backing   from   its   fellow   ASEAN                                                                                                                  

 Thailand,  The  Government  Information  Office,  “Thai  and  US  Leaders  Emphasize  a  Deeper  Bilateral   Strategic  Partnership  and  Enhance  Regional  Cooperation,”  November  20,  2012.  

 Carlyle  A.  Thayer,  “Cambodia-­‐United  States  Relations,”  in  Pou  Sothirak,  Geoffrey  Wade  and  Mark  Hong,   eds.,   Cambodia:   Progress   and   Challenges   Since   1991   (Singapore:   Institute   of   Southeast   Asian   Studies,   2012),   96-­‐107   and   Carlyle   A.   Thayer,   “US   Rapprochement   with   Laos   and   Cambodia,”   Contemporary   Southeast  Asia,  32(3),  2010,  442-­‐459.

 ASEAN   Declaration   On   The   South   China   Sea,   Manila,   Philippines,   22   July   1992.   http://www.aseansec.org/1196.htm.   ASEAN   comprised   six   members   at   this   time:   Brunei,   Indonesia,   Malaysia,  Philippines,  Singapore,  and  Thailand.  

 Statement   by   the   ASEAN   Foreign   Ministers   on   the   Recent   Developments   in   the   South   China   Sea   18   March   1995;   http://www.aseansec.org/2089.htm.   Vietnam   joined   ASEAN   as   its   seventh   member   in   July   1995.  



members  for  a  Code  of  Conduct  in  the  South  China  Sea  that  would  constrain  China  from   further   encroachments   on   Philippines   sovereignty.   In   late   1999,   after   protracted   discussions,   ASEAN   members   finally   reached   agreement   on   a   COC.25     In   March   2000,   ASEAN  and  China  exchanged  their  respective  drafts  and  agreed  to  consolidate  them  into   one   document.26  Four   major   areas   of   disagreement   were   identified:   the   geographic   scope,   restrictions   on   construction   on   occupied   and   unoccupied   features,   military   activities  in  waters  adjacent  to  the  Spratly  islands,  and  whether  or  not  fishermen  found   in  disputed  waters  could  be  detained  and  arrested.     A   formal   ASEAN-­‐China   COC   proved   a   bridge   to   far.   Because   China   and   ASEAN   were   unable  to  reach  agreement  on  a  common  text  ASEAN  and  China  adopted  a  non-­‐binding   political   statement,   the   Declaration   on   Conduct   of   Parties   in   the   South   China   Sea,   in   November   2002.   The   DOC   was   stillborn.   It   took   a   further   twenty-­‐five   months   before   senior  officials  reached  agreement  on  the  Terms  of  Reference  for  the  ASEAN-­‐China  Joint   Working   Group   (JWC)   to   implement   the   DOC.27  In   August   2005,   ASEAN   tabled   draft   Guidelines  to  Implement  the  DOC  at  the  first  meeting  of  the  JWC.  Point  two  called  for   ASEAN   consultations   prior   to   meeting   with   China.28  China   objected   and   repeated   its   long-­‐held  position  that  the  relevant  parties  should  resolve  sovereignty  and  jurisdictional   disputes   bilaterally.   This   proved   such   a   sticking   point   that   another   six   years   of                                                                                                                  

 For   further   background   consult:   Carlyle   A.   Thayer,   “Challenges   to   ASEAN   Cohesion:   The   Policy   of   Constructive   Engagement   and   a   Code   of   Conduct   for   the   South   China   Sea,”   Paper   to   international   workshop   on   Regionalism   and   Globalism   in   Southeast   Asia,   Department   of   Political   Science   and   International  Relations,  University  of  Tampere  and  the  Centre  for  Southeast  Asian  Studies,  Åbo  Akademi   University,  Marienhamn,  Åland,  Finland,  June  2-­‐4,  2000,  31-­‐44.      http://www.scribd.com/doc/103248217/Thayer-­‐Challenges-­‐to-­‐ASEAN%E2%80%99s-­‐Cohesion-­‐The-­‐Policy-­‐ of-­‐Constructive-­‐Engagement-­‐and-­‐a-­‐Code-­‐of-­‐Conduct-­‐for-­‐the-­‐South-­‐China-­‐Sea.  

 Association   of   Southeast   Asian   Nations,   “Regional   Code   of   Conduct   in   the   South   China   Sea   (Draft),”   March   2000   and   People’s   Republic   of   China,   “Code   of   Conduct   on   the   South   China   Sea   (Draft   of   the   Chinese  Side),”  March  2000.  

 ASEAN-­‐China   Senior   Officials   Meeting   on   the   Implementation   of   the   Declaration   on   the   Conduct   of   Parties  in  the  South  China  Sea,  Kuala  Lumpur,  7  December  2004  and  Terms  of  Reference  of  the  ASEAN-­‐ China   Joint   Working   Group   on   the   Implementation   of   the   Declaration   on   the   Conduct   of   Parties   in   the   South  China  Sea;  http://www.aseansec.org/16888.htm  and  http://www.aseansec.org/16885.htm.  

 Tran   Truong   Thuy,   “Recent   Developments   in   the   South   China   Sea:   From   Declaration   to   Code   of   Conduct,”   in   Tran   Truong   Thuy,   ed.,   The   South   China   Sea:   Towards   a   Region   of   Peace,   Security   and   Cooperation  (Hanoi:  The  Gioi  Publishers,  2011),  104.  



intermittent   discussions   and   twenty-­‐one   successive   drafts   were   exchanged   before   agreement  was  reached.     In  July  2011,  in  what  seemed  to  be  a  major  break-­‐through  at  the  time,  China  and  ASEAN   finally  adopted  the  Guidelines  to  Implement  the  DOC  after  ASEAN  dropped  its  insistence   on   prior   consultation   and   agreed   instead   “to   promote   dialogue   and   consultation”   among   the   parties.   A   new   point   was   added   to   the   Guidelines   specifying   that   activities   and   projects   carried   out   under   the   DOC   should   be   reported   to   the   ASEAN-­‐China   Ministerial  Meeting.29  All  the  other  points  in  the  2011  Guidelines  remained  unchanged   from  the  original  ASEAN  draft  tabled  in  2005.     Later   that   year   Chinese   and   ASEAN   senior   officials   met   to   discuss   the   adoption   of   confidence-­‐building   measures   (CBMs)   to   implement   the   DOC. 30  ASEAN   and   Chinese   senior   officials   continued   discussions   on   the   implementation   of   the   DOC   Guidelines   at   a   meeting  held  in  Beijing  from  January  13-­‐15,  2012.  This  meeting  reached  agreement  to   set   up   four   expert   committees   on   maritime   scientific   research,   environmental   protection,  search  and  rescue,  and  transnational  crime.  These  committees  were  derived   from  the  five  cooperative  activities  mentioned  in  the  2002  DOC.  Significantly  no  expert   committee  on  safety  of  navigation  and  communication  at  sea  was  established  due  to  its   contentious  nature.   Code   of   Conduct.   The   adoption   of   the   Guidelines   to   Implement   the   DOC   led   to   the   revival  of  the  long-­‐standing  proposal  by  the  Philippines  for  a  COC  that  was  included  in   the  2002  DOC  and  never  acted  on.  ASEAN  senior  officials  began  drafting  the  COC  with   the   intention   of   reaching   a   common   ASEAN   position   before   presenting   it   to   China   for   discussion.  In  January  2012,  the  Philippines  circulated  an  informal  working  draft  simply   titled,  “Philippines  Draft  Code  of  Conduct.”  The  document  was  eight  pages  in  length  and   comprised   ten   articles.   In   discussions   held   by   ASEAN   senior   officials   during   the   first   quarter   of   2012   it   became   apparent   that   ASEAN   members   were   divided   on   provisions                                                                                                                  
29 30

 Guidelines  to  Implement  the  DOC,  http://www.aseansec.org/documents/20185-­‐DOC.pdf.   “ASEAN  ready  to  discuss  continuation  of  doc  with  China”,  Antara,  14  November  2011.  

  contained  in  the  Philippines  draft.31    


China  initially  took  the  position  that  the  implementation  of  the  DOC  Guidelines  should   be  given  priority  over  the  COC.  China  stated  it  would  discuss  the  COC  with  ASEAN  at  an   “appropriate  timing”  or  when  “appropriate  conditions”  were  met.32  Now  China  sought  a   seat   at   the   ASEAN   discussions   and   this   became   a   contentious   issue   within   ASEAN.   For   example,  at  the  ASEAN  Summit  held  in   Phnom   Penh  from  April   3-­‐4,   2012,  Cambodia,  as   ASEAN  Chair,  argued  that  China  should  be  included  from  the  beginning  in  discussions  on   the   COC.   Cambodia   also   promoted   China’s   suggestion   that   a   group   of   expert   and   eminent   persons   drawn   from   ASEAN   states   and   China   should   be   formed   to   provide   inputs  on  the  draft  COC.  Vietnam  and  the  Philippines  objected  and  both  proposals  were   dropped.33  A   compromise   was   reached.   ASEAN   would   proceed   on   its   own   to   draft   a   COC,  while  communication  with  China  would  take  place  through  the  ASEAN  Chair  at  the   same  time.34     On  June  13,  2012,  the  seventh  meeting  of  the  ASEAN  SOM  Working  Group  on  the  COC   reached   agreement   on   a   draft   entitled   “Proposed   Elements   of   a   Regional   Code   of   Conduct”  and  forwarded  it  to  the  ASEAN  SOM  for  their  consideration.35  The  ASEAN  SOM   met   in   Phnom   Penh   from   July   6-­‐7   and   approved   the   draft.   The   draft   was   then   passed   to   ASEAN   foreign   ministers   who   approved   it   at   their   45th   AMM   on   July   9,   2012.   It   was  


 For  a  detailed  comparison  of  the  Philippines  Draft  Code  of  Conduct  with  the  later  Proposed  Elements  of   a   Code   of   Conduct   adopted   by   the   ASEAN   Foreign   Ministers,   see:   Thayer,   "ASEAN’S   Code   of   Conduct   in   the  South  China  Sea:  A  Litmus  Test  for  Community-­‐Building?."  

 Carlyle   A.   Thayer,   “Sovereignty   Disputes   in   the   South   China   Sea:   Diplomacy,   Legal   Regimes   and   Realpolitik,”   Presentation   to   International   Conference   on   Topical   Regional   Security   Issues   in   East   Asia,   co-­‐ sponsored  by  the  Faculty  of  Asian  and  African  Studies  and  the  Ho  Chi  Minh  Institute,  St.  Petersburg  State   University,  St.  Petersburg,  Russian  Federation,  April  6-­‐7,  2012,  7.  
33 34 35

 Thayer,  "ASEAN’S  Code  of  Conduct  in  the  South  China  Sea”,  op.  cit.,  p.  3.    Thayer,  “Is  the  Philippines  an  Orphan?”    Estrella  Torres,  “Manila  tack  on  China  row  wins  Asean  nod,”  Businses  Mirror,  July  13,  2012.  



expected  that  ASEAN  and  Chinese  senior  officials  would  meet  to  discuss  ASEAN  draft  in   September  than  year.36   Unfortunately  this  positive  development  was  derailed  by  intense  disagreement  between   Cambodia   and   the   Philippines   and   Vietnam   that   surfaced   at   the   45th   AMM   and   AMM   Retreat.   These   meetings   were   held   under   the   shadow   of   the   standoff   at   Scarborough   Shoal  and  the  decision  by  the  China  National  Offshore  Oil  Company  (CNOOC)  to  award   exploration   blocs   lying   entirely   within   Vietnam’s   EEZ. 37  Both   issues   were   raised   in   ministerial  discussions.     Cambodia,   as   ASEAN   Chair,   appointed   the   foreign   ministers   from   Indonesia,   Malaysia,   Vietnam  and  the  Philippines  to  a  working  party  to  draft  the  joint  statement  summarizing   the   AMM   discussions.bWhen   the   draft   joint   statement   was   presented   to   ministers   at   their   Retreat   Cambodia   blocked   any   reference   to   Scarborough   Shoal   and   CNOOC.   This   led  to  the  unprecedented  situation  whereby  the  ASEAN  foreign  ministers  were  unable   to  adopt  a  joint  statement  for  the  first  time  in  their  forty-­‐four  year  history.38     In   the   midst   of   recriminations   between   Cambodia   and   the   Philippines,   Indonesia’s   Foreign  Minister  Marty  Natalegawa  initiated  consultations  with  his  ASEAN  counterparts   in   an   effort   to   restore   unity   and   commit   ASEAN   to   a   common   position. 39  Marty   conducted   an   intense   round   of   shuttle   diplomacy   flying   to   Manila,   Hanoi,   Bangkok,  


 Michael   Lipin,   “Cambodia   Says   ASEAN   Ministers   Agree   to   ‘Key   Elements’   of   Sea   Code,”   Voice   of   America,  July  9  2012;  Michael  del  Callar,  “DFA  chief:  ASEAN  agrees  on  key  elements  for  Code  of  Conduct   in   West   PHL   Sea,”   GMA   News,   July   11,   2012;   and   Associated   Press,   “Asean   to   take   up   code   of   conduct   with  China,”   Manila  Standard  Today,  July  10,  2012  quotes  Liu  Weimin,  spokesperson  for  China’s  Ministry   of  Foreign  Affairs,  as  stating  “When  conditions  are  ripe,  China  would  like  to  discuss  with  Asean  countries   the  formulation  of  the  COC.”  

 China   National   Offshore   Oil   Company,   “Press   Center   Notification   of   Open   Blocks   in   Waters   Under   the   Jurisdiction  of  the  People’s  Republic  of  China”,  13  June  2012.     <http://en.cnooc.com.cn/data/html/news/2012-­‐06-­‐23/english.322127.html.>    
38 39

 Thayer,  "ASEAN’S  Code  of  Conduct  in  the  South  China  Sea”,  op.  cit.,  pp.  5-­‐14.  

 Carlyle   A.   Thayer,   “ASEAN   Unity   Restored   by   Shuttle   Diplomacy?,”   Thayer   Consultancy   Background   Brief,   July   24,   2012,   http://www.scribd.com/doc/101075293/Thayer-­‐ASEAN-­‐Unity-­‐Restored-­‐by-­‐Shuttle-­‐ Diplomacy.  



Phnom   Penh   and   Singapore   over   a   two-­‐day   period   (July   18-­‐19).   The   result   was   an   agreement  on  ASEAN’s  Six-­‐Point  Principles  on  the  South  China  Sea.40       In  this  statement  all  ASEAN  Foreign  Ministers  reaffirmed  their  commitment  to:  the  full   implementation   of   the   DOC;   Guidelines   for   the   Implementation   of   the   DOC;   the   early   conclusion   of   a   Regional   COC   in   the   South   China   Sea;   full   respect   of   the   universally   recognized   principles   of   international   law   including   the   1982   UNCLOS;   continued   exercise  of  self-­‐restraint  and  non-­‐use  of  force  by  all  parties;  and  peaceful  resolution  of   disputes   in   accordance   the   universally   recognized   principles   of   international   law   including   the   1982   UNCLOS.   The   statement   concluded:   “The   ASEAN   Foreign   Ministers   resolve   to   intensify   ASEAN   consultations   in   the   advancement   of   the   above   principles,   consistent  with  the  Treaty  of  Amity  and  Cooperation  in  Southeast  Asia  (1976)  and  the   ASEAN  Charter  (2008).”   Chinese  Foreign  Ministry  spokesperson,  Qin  Gang,  responded  to  these  developments  by   introducing   a   pre-­‐condition   linking   compliance   with   the   DOC   and   discussions   on   the   COC.  Qin  Gang  stated:    
What  concerns  people  now  is  that  some  individual  countries,  showing  no  respect  for  or  compliance   with   the   DOC,   have   time   and   again   resorted   to   provocative   means,   which   undermined   the   basic   principles  and  spirit  of  the  DOC  and  created  difficulties  for  discussing  a  code  of  conduct  (COC)  in  the   South   China   Sea.   Therefore,   while   being   open   to   discussing   a   COC   with   ASEAN   countries,   China   believes  that  all  parties  concerned  must  act  in  strict  accordance  with  the  DOC  to  create  the  necessary   41 conditions  and  atmosphere  of  a  COC.  

China  then  dispatched  its  foreign  minister  for  a  fence-­‐mending  visit  to  Indonesia,  Brunei   and   Malaysia   for   talks   with   his   counterparts   (he   pointedly   omitted   the   Philippines).   Foreign   Minister   Yang   Jiechi   stated   at   a   joint   press   conference   in   Jakarta   that   China   was  


 Statement  of  ASEAN  Foreign  Ministers  on  ASEAN's  Six-­‐Point  Principles  on  the  South  China  Sea,  July  20,   2012.     Cambodia’s   Foreign   Minister   could   not   resist   using   this   occasions   to   lay   the   blame   for   ASEAN's   failure  to  issue  a  joint  communiqué  on  Vietnam  and  the  Philippines.  

 Statement   by   Spokesperson   Qin   Gang   of   the   Ministry   of   Foreign   Affairs   of   China   on   the   US   State   Department  issuing  a  So-­‐called  Press  Statement  on  the  South  China  Sea,  August  4,  2012.  I  am  grateful  to   Greg  Torode  of  the  South  China  Morning  Post  for  pointing  out  the  significance  of  this  statement.  



willing   to   work   with   ASEAN   to   implement   the   DOC   and   to   work   toward   the   eventual   adoption  of  the  COC  “on  the  basis  of  consensus.”42     At   the   45th   AMM   Retreat   Foreign   Minister   Marty   promised,   “Indonesia   will   circulate   a   non   paper   [on]   possible   and   additional   elements   of   [the]   COC.   It   is   meant   to   be   more   prescriptive  and  operational.”  This  “non  paper”  was  quickly  dubbed  the  Zero  Draft  Code   of   Conduct.     In   September   2012,   ASEAN   Foreign   Ministers   met   in   New   York   on   the   sidelines  of  the  annual  UN  General  Assembly  session  to  consider  Indonesia’s  Zero  Draft   now  titled  “A  Regional  Code  of  Conduct  in  the  South  China  Sea.”43  Indonesia’s  Regional   Code  of  Conduct  draws  heavily  on  the  DOC,  ASEAN’s  Proposed  Elements  of  a  Regional   Code  of  Conduct  and  ASEAN’s  Six-­‐Point  Principles  on  the  South  China  Sea.   Indonesia’s   Regional   Code   of   Conduct   includes   several   new   and   possibly   contentious   points.   Article   2   (Basic   Understandings),   for   example,   includes   the   following   three   commitments:  “respect  for  the  Exclusive  Economic  Zone  (EEZ)  and  continental  shelf  of   the  coastal  states;  respect  for  the  COC  and  the  taking  of  actions  consistent  with  it;  and   the   encouragement   of   other   countries   to   respect   the   COC.” 44  Article   3   (Areas   of   Application)  “stipulates  that  the  COC  shall  apply  to  unresolved  maritime  boundary  areas   of  the  parties  concerned  in  the  South  China  Sea.”45   Perhaps  the  most  contentious  proposal  was  set  out  in  Article  5  (Implementation  of  the   Code  of  Conduct).  The  draft  text  states:  
the   parties   to   the   code   agree   to   refrain   from   ‘conducting   military   exercises,   military   surveillance,   or   other  provocative  actions  in  the  South  China  Sea;  occupying  or  erecting  new  structures  on  the  islands,   and  land  features  –  presently  occupied  or  not;  inhabiting  the  presently  uninhabited  islands  and  other   land   features;   and   conducting   activities   that   threat   navigational   safely   and/or   polluting   the   46 environment.’  


 Tarra  Quismundo,  ‘China  says  it’s  willing  to  ease  Asean  rift  on  sea,’  Philippines  Daily  Inquirer,  August  11,   2012.  

 This   discussions   draws   on   Mark   Valencia,   “Navigating   Differences:   What   the   ‘Zero   draft’   Code   of   Conduct  for  the  South  China  Sea  Says  (and  Doesn’t  Say),”  Global  Asia,  8(1),  Spring  2003,  72-­‐78.  
44 45 46

 Ibid.,  75.    Ibid.    Ibid.,  75-­‐76.  



Article  5,  in  its  discussion  of  implementation,  refers  to  the  International  Regulations  for   Preventing   Collisions   at   Sea   1972   (COLREGS)   and   earlier   Incidents   at   Sea   (INCSEA)   agreements.   Finally,   Article   5   sets   out   two   dispute   mechanisms   previously   mentioned   in   ASEAN’s   Proposed   Elements   of   a   Regional   Code   of   Conduct,   namely   the   TAC’s   High   Council  and  the  mechanisms  set  out  in  the  UN  Convention  on  Law  of  the  Sea.47     In  late  October  2012,  Thailand,  as  country  coordinator  for  ASEAN’s  relations  with  China,   hosted   an   informal   meeting   of   ASEAN   and   Chinese   officials   in   Pattaya.   This   meeting   considered   guidelines   for   negotiations   over   the   coming   year.   A   Thai   official   told   journalists   that   “it   might   take   another   two   years   to   reach   agreement”   on   a   COC.   The   following   month   internal   ASEAN   divisions   emerged   after   the   ASEAN   Summit   held   in   Phnom   Penh.   When   Cambodia’s   foreign   minister,   speaking   as   the   ASEAN   Chair,   announced  that  consensus  had  been  reached  not  to  internationalize  territorial  disputes   in  the  South  China  Sea  the  Philippines  publicly  objected  and  the  offending  reference  was   dropped.  Cambodia  was  echoing  long-­‐standing  Chinese  policy  on  this  issue.   After  the  ASEAN  Chair  passed  from  Cambodia  to  Brunei  there  have  been  straws  in  the   wind   that   ASEAN   would   renew   its   efforts   to   engage   China   in   discussions   on   a   Code   of   Conduct.48  Brunei,  the  new  ASEAN  Chair,  and  ASEAN’s  new  Secretary  General,  Le  Luong   Minh,   both   pledged   to   give   priority   to   reviving   discussions   on   the   COC.49  Thailand,   as   ASEAN’s  designated  coordinator  for  dialogue  relations  with  China,  also  pledged  to  take   up   the   matter   with   Beijing.50  However,   the   decision   by   the   Philippines   on   January   22,                                                                                                                  

 The   International   Tribunal   for   the   Law   of   the   Sea,   International   Court   of   Justice,   Arbitral   Tribunal   and   Special  Arbitral  Tribunal.  

 For   discussion   on   a   possible   “ASEAN   Troika”   see:   Michael   A.   McDevitt   and   Lew   Stern,   “Vietnam   and   the   South   China   Sea,”   in   Michael   A.   McDevitt,   M.   Taylor   Fravel,   Lewis   M.   Stern,   The   Long   Littoral   Project:   South  China  Sea,  CNA  Strategic  Studies,  March  27,  2013,  61-­‐74.  

 “New  ASEAN  chair  Brunei  to  seek  South  China  Sea  code  of  conduct”,  GMA  News,  14  January  2013;“New   ASEAN  chief  seek  to  finalise  Code  of  Conduct  on  South  China  Sea”,   Channel  News  Asia,  9  January  2013;   Termsak   Chalermpalanupap,   “Toward   a   code   of   conduct   for   the   South   China   Sea”,  The   Nation,   22   January   2013,  

 “No   immediate   solution   for   South   China   Sea   dispute:   Shanmugam”,   Channel   News   Asia,   14   January   2013;   “Thailand   seeks   talks   on   South   China   Sea”,   Bangkok   Post,   15   January   2013;   “Sihasak   seeks   South   China   Sea   parley”,   Bangkok   Post,   25   January   2013   and   Greg   Torode,   “Manila’s   lonely   path   over   South   China  Sea”,  South  China  Morning  Post,  11  February  2013.  



2013   to   lodge   a   formal   legal   claim   with   the   United   Nations,   and   China’s   rejection   of   this   claim,  has  raised  uncertainty  about  ASEAN’s  efforts  to  restart  discussions  with  China  on   a   Code   of   Conduct.51  Diplomatic   sources   in   Southeast   Asia   report   that   the   Philippine   actions   “have   breathed   all   the   life   out   of   the   COC   process.”52  A   recent   study   by   an   American  legal  specialist  argues  that  China  has  four  choices:  
First,  China  still  has  an  opportunity  to  change  its  position  and  litigate  the  issues,  or  at  least  to  litigate   whether  the  Arbitral  Panel  has  jurisdiction  over  any  of  the  Philippine  claims…   China’s  second  option  –  and  perhaps  the  most  likely  –  is  to  continue  to  refrain  from  participating  and   to  hope  for  a  favorable  outcome.  If  China  loses  the  case,  it  could  declare  the  process  void  and  ignore   its  results…   Third,  China  may  believe  its  best  option  is  to  try  to  isolate  and  coerce  the  Philippines  into  dropping  the   arbitration…   Finally,   given   the   risks   and   ramifications   of   each   of   these   options,   Beijing   may   decide   to   engage   in   53 quiet  negotiations  with  Manila  to  withdraw  the  case.  

China   may   already   be   pursuing   option   four.   Southeast   Asian   diplomatic   sources   have   revealed   that   Beijing   is   putting   diplomatic   pressure   on   ASEAN   states   to   lobby   the   Philippines   to   drop   its   legal   action   with   the   UN   in   return   for   restarting   talks   on   the   COC.54   4.  U.S.  Rebalancing  and  Maritime  Security   ASEAN   has   sought   to   enmesh   all   the   major   powers   through   engagement   in   ASEAN-­‐ centric   multilateral   institutions,   including   the   ASEAN   Post-­‐Ministerial   Conference   and   the   ASEAN   Regional   Forum.   ASEAN   insists   that   it   remain   in   the   driver’s   seat   in   the   region’s  security  architecture  and  that  the  norms  embodied  in  the  ASEAN  Way  guide  the   decision-­‐making  process  and  work  programs  of  regional  security  institutions.  ASEAN  also                                                                                                                  
51 52

 Carlyle   A.   Thayer,   “South   China   Sea:   China   Rejects   Arbitration   Claim   by   the   Philippines,”   Thayer   Consultancy  Background  Brief,  March  3,  2013.  Available  at  Scribd.com.    Based  on  off-­‐the-­‐record  discussions  held  on  March  12-­‐13,  2013.  For  a  pessimistic  view  on  the  prospects   for  a  COC  see:  Ian  Storey,  “Slipping  Away?  A  South  China  Sea  Code  of  Conduct  Eludes  Diplomatic  Efforts,”   East  and  South  China  Seas  Bulletin,  no.  11,  March  20,  2013.    

 Peter  Dutton,  “The  Sino-­‐Philippine  Maritime  Row:  International  Abritration  and  the  South  China  Sea,”   East  and  South  China  Sea  Bulletin  [Center  for  a  New  American  Security],  No.  10,  March  15,  2013,  6-­‐7.  

 Based  on  off-­‐the-­‐record  discussions  held  on  March  12-­‐13,  2013.  



seeks   to   position   itself   so   that   it   does   not   have   to   choose   between   China   and   United   States.   ASEAN   has   therefore   adopted   a   policy   of   “soft-­‐balancing”   as   a   hedge   against   the   potential   disruptive   affects   of   China’s   rise.   ASEAN   continually   encourages   the   United   States   —   as   well   as   Japan,   South   Korea   and   India   —   to   remain   engaged   in   regional   security  affairs  as  a  counter-­‐weight  to  China.  It  is  this  strategy  of  “soft–balancing”  that   led   to   ASEAN’s   initiation   of   the   ASEAN   Defense   Ministers   Meeting   Plus   (ADMM   Plus)   process  and  the  enlargement  of  the  East  Asia  Summit  to  include  Russia  and  the  United   States.   China’s   economic   power   has   provided   the   foundation   for   the   modernization   and   transformation  of  its  armed  forces.  It  is  evident  that  China  is  developing  robust  counter-­‐ intervention  capabilities  (anti-­‐access/area-­‐denial  capabilities)  that  will  affect  the  ability   of   the   U.S.   Navy   to   operate   in   Western   Pacific.   China’s   increased   military   prowess   has   direct  implications  for  the  South  China  Sea.  China’s  increasing  assertiveness  in  the  form   deploying  greater  numbers  of  maritime  enforcement  ships  and  PLAN  naval  exercises  has   raised   regional   security   concerns   about   the   commitment   of   the   United   States   to   remain   engaged  in  Southeast  Asia.   In  January  2012,  partly  in  response  to  regional  concerns,  the  United  States  announced   that  with  its  withdrawal  from  Iraq  and  eventual  withdrawal  from  Afghanistan,  it  would   “rebalance”  its  force  posture  and  quarantine  defence  cuts  in  the  Asia-­‐Pacific.  This  policy   was   contained   in   a   new   defence   strategy   entitled,   Sustaining   U.S.   Global   Leadership:   Priorities  for  21st  Century  Defense.  This  document  stated:  
U.S.   economic   and   security   interests   are   inextricably   linked   to   developments   in   the   arc   extending   from   the   Western   Pacific   and   East   Asia   into   the   Indian   Ocean   region   and   South   Asia   creating   a   mix   of   evolving   challenges   and   opportunities.   Accordingly,   while   the   U.S.   military   will   continue   to   contribute   to   security   globally,   we   will   of   necessity   rebalance   toward   the   Asia-­‐Pacific   region.   Our   relationships   with   Asian   allies   and   key   partners   are   critical   to   the   future   stability   and   growth   of   the   region.   We   will   emphasize   our   existing   alliances,   which   provide   a   vital   foundation   for   Asia-­‐Pacific   security.   We   will   expand   our   networks   of   cooperation   with   emerging   partners   throughout   the   Asia-­‐Pacific   to   ensure   55 collective  capability  and  capacity  for  securing  common  interests  [emphasis  in  original].  

The   Obama   Administration’s   policy   of   “rebalancing”   towards   the   Asia-­‐Pacific   involves                                                                                                                  

 Sustaining  U.S.  Global  Leadership:  Priorities  for  21  Century  Defense  (Washington,  D.C.  Department  of   Defense,  January  2012),  2.  




the   full   spectrum   of   economic,   diplomatic,   political   and   military   engagement.56  The   United   States   repeatedly   declares   that   its   policy   of   rebalancing   includes   cooperation   with  China  and  is  not  a  policy  of  containment.   The  U.S.  Pacific  Command  will  continue  to  reinforce  the  “four  pillars  of  the  rebalance”:   partnerships,   presence,   power   projection,   and   principles   (free   and   open   commerce,   access  to  the  global  commons,  rule  of  law,  peaceful  settlement  of  disputes,  promotion   of  democracy  and  universal  human  rights).  Rebalancing  will  result  in  some  force  posture   changes   in   the   Asia-­‐Pacific   but   will   not   result   in   a   major   buildup   of   U.S.   forces.   For   example,  former  Secretary  of  Defense  Leon  Panetta  stated  that  the  number  of  U.S.  Navy   ships   in   the   Asia-­‐Pacific   would   increase   to   sixty   percent   of   the   total   fleet   by   2020.   At   present,  the  U.S.  Navy  totals  285  ships  of  which  157,  or  fifty-­‐five  percent,  are  assigned   to  the  Pacific.     U.S.  rebalancing  will  result  in  the  introduction  of  new  platforms  and  better  capabilities,   including   the   deployment   of   Virginia   class   submarines,   fifth   generation   fighters,   P-­‐8   aircraft,  cruise  missiles  and  enhanced  Intelligence  Surveillance  and  Reconnaissance.  U.S.   rebalancing  also  will  lead  to  an  increase  in  the  rotation  of  U.S.  naval  and  air  forces  to  the   region,   including   deployments   to   Australia,   Guam   and   the   Philippines.   U.S.   Littoral   Combat   Ships   will   be   rotated   through   Singapore.   U.S.   forces   will   be   more   widely   dispersed  than  previously  and  more  capable  of  intervening  if  called  upon  to  do  so.   The   Philippines,   as   a   treaty   ally,   and   Singapore,   as   a   strategic   partner,   are   Southeast   Asia’s   two   most   supportive   states   towards   U.S.   rebalancing.   Both   will   host   short-­‐term   rotations   of   U.S.   air   and   naval   forces.   Malaysia,   Indonesia,   Brunei,   Thailand   and   Cambodia,  which  already  conduct  defence  cooperation  and  military  exercises  with  the   United   States,   support   a   continued   U.S.   presence   in   the   region   to   balance   China.   Vietnam   prefers   to   give   indirect   support   to   U.S.   rebalancing   through   low-­‐key   defence   cooperation   activities   that   do   not   yet   include   the   presence   of   uniformed   U.S.   military                                                                                                                  

 President  Obama  visited  Myanmar,  Thailand  and  Cambodia  in  November  2012.  See:  Sheldon  Simon,   “US-­‐Southeast  Asia  Relations:  High-­‐Level  Attention,”  Comparative  Connections,  January  2013.  



personnel  or  military  exercises.  U.S.  rebalancing  has  reached  out  to  landlocked  Laos  only   recently.57  The   U.S.   is   engaging   diplomatically,   politically   and   economically   —   but   not   militarily  —with  Myanmar     5.  Conclusion   All   members   of   ASEAN   seek   to   accommodate   China’s   rise   through   ASEAN-­‐centric   multilateral  arrangements  such  as  the  ASEAN  Treaty  of  Amity  and  Cooperation,  China-­‐ ASEAN   Free   Trade   Agreement,   ASEAN-­‐China   summits,   ASEAN   Regional   Forum,   ASEAN   Plus   Three,   ADMM   Plus   and   the   East   Asia   Summit.   This   is   a   long-­‐term   strategic   commitment.   At   the   same   time,   each   of   ASEAN’s   ten   member   states   have   pursued   separate  bilateral  relations  with  China  based  on  their  differing  interests.     China’s   military   rise   and   assertiveness   in   the   South   China   Sea   has   resulted   in   differing   threat   perceptions   among   ASEAN’s   members.   These   threat   perceptions   have   been   shaped  by  a  number  of  factors  including  geographical  proximity,  the  legacy  of  historical   interactions,   and   their   assessment   of   Chinese   intentions.   Claimant   states   such   as   the   Philippines  and  Vietnam  perceive  China’s  assertiveness  as  directly  threatening  their  vital   national   interests.   They   have   adopted   policies   that   most   strongly   resist   Chinese   pressures.     The   other   claimant   states,   Malaysia   and   Brunei,   along   with   Indonesia   and   Singapore,   two  maritime  non-­‐claimant  states,  feel  less  immediately  threatened  by  China’s  actions.   They  have  pursued  less  confrontational  policies  in  response  to  Chinese  assertiveness  in   the   South   China   Sea.   They   also   have   attempted   to   insulate   themselves   from   Chinese   pressure  by  supporting  ASEAN  efforts  to  promote  a  Code  of  Conduct  for  the  South  China   Sea.  Mainland  states,  which  are  not  directly  threatened  by  Chinese  assertiveness,  have   given   greater   priority   to   accommodating   China   in   order   to   benefit   economically   from   China’s  rise.                                                                                                                  

 The  Commander  of  the  U.S.  Army  Pacific  visited  Laos  in  February  2013  to  discuss  future  cooperation;  he   was  the  highest  level  U.S.  military  official  to  visit  since  2007.  See:  “USARPAC  CG  visits  Laos,”  Hawai’i  Army   Weekly,  February  22,  1023.  



ASEAN’s   efforts   to   manage   territorial   disputes   in   the   South   China   Sea   have   been   ineffectual.   Internal   ASEAN   divisions   have   weakened   its   hand   in   negotiating   a   Code   of   Conduct   for   the   South   China   Sea   with   China.   Generally   ASEAN   states   welcome   a   continuing   U.S.   presence   as   a   balance   to   China   but   they   do   not   want   to   be   put   in   a   position   of   having   to   choose   between   them.     Collectively   the   ASEAN   states   support   U.S.   engagement   in   regional   multilateral   security   institutions.   Individually   all   ASEAN   states   welcome   the   U.S.   policy   of   rebalancing   towards   the   region   with   different   degrees   of   commitment.   With   the   exception   of   Myanmar   all   are   involved   in   varying   levels   of   defence  cooperation  with  the  United  States.  The  Philippine  and  Singapore  pursue  more   overt  balancing  against  China  than  the  other  members  of  ASEAN  —  Thailand,  Malaysia,   Brunei,   Indonesia,   Cambodia,   Vietnam,   Laos   and   Myanmar   —that   pursue   hedging   strategies.  

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