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Thayer Consultancy

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Background Briefing: ASEAN’s 22nd Summit and Brunei’s Role as Chair Carlyle A. Thayer April 25, 2013

[client  name  deleted]   1.   The   22nd   ASEAN   Summit   this   time   was   held    two   weeks  after  the   (preparatory)   Foreign  Ministers  Meeting  (AMM),  not  like  the  previous  occasions  by  other  countries   such  as  Indonesia  in  2011  and  Cambodia  2012,  where  the  AMM  took  place  just  the   day  before  the  Summit.   By  having  the  AMM  and  ASEAN  Summit  two  weeks  apart,  Brunei  was  able  to  mend   every  disagreement  or  issues  arising  from  the  AMM,  and  make  sure  that  the  Summit   would   follow   smoothly   and   successfully.   Within   those   two   weeks,   we   saw   Brunei’s   Sultan  visiting  the  US  and  the  Philippines.  Do  you  think  Brunei  is  tactically  clever  by   doing  so?   ANSWER:  The  Sultan  also  consulted  with  President  Xi  Jinping  on  the  sidelines  of  the   Boao   Forum.   The   Malay   political   culture   emphasizes   consultation   and   consensus.   Malay  culture  also  tries  to  avoid  public  shows  of  friction  and  disunity.  The  Sultan  of   Brunei  speaks  with  greater  authority  than  his  other  ASEAN  counterparts.  The  Sultan   is  very  experienced  in  foreign  affairs.  Yes  he  is  being  tactically  shrewd  to  consult  with   all.   2.  The  South  China  Sea  issue  is  very  quiet  at  this  Summit.  How  it  will  evolve  under   Brunei’s   Chairmanship?   And   what   would   you   expect   from   Brunei   Chairmanship   in   2013?   ANSWER:  The  fact  that  the  South  China  Sea  was  not  on  the  formal  agenda  does  not   mean  it  wasn't  discussed.  Recall  that  Cambodia  took  it  off  the  agenda  and  they  put  it   back  on  due  to  protests  from  the  Philippines.  There  was  not  need  to  do  this  because   the   Philippines   and   other   countries   were   free   to   raise   maritime   security   concerns.   Reportedly   there   was   supposed   to   be   an   ASEAN   statement   on   the   South   Chin   Sea   issued  prior  to  the  Summit.  If  is  it  issued  it  would  be  the  third  ASEAN  Statement  on   the  South  China  Sea;  the  first  was  issued  in  1992  and  the  second  in  1995.     The  ASEAN  Chair  must  reflect  consensus  but  the  Chair  can  also  be  proactive  to  forge   agreement.   Brunei   has   already   indicated   it   will   give   high   priority   to   achieving   a   Code  

2 of  Conduct  by  October.  While  this  appears  unlikely  at  this  stage  it  nevertheless  puts   some  diplomatic  pressure  on  China  to  respond.  China  knows  that  if  it  does  not  give   the  appearance  of  going  along  with  ASEAN  on  COC  discussions  it  risks  being  singled   out  in  November  when  the  East  Asia  Summit  meets.     Suggested   citation:   Carlyle   A.   Thayer,   “ASEAN’s   22nd   Summit,”   Thayer   Consultancy   Background  Brief,  April  25,  2013.   Thayer  Consultancy  Background  Briefs  are  archived  at