The US instead of China Is Isolated in Southeast AsiaPosted: July 25, 2016
Reuters, as a prestigious world media has to tell the truth whether it like the truth or not; therefore, it has to admit in he end that China is the diplomatic winner in Southeast Asia in its report “Diplomatic win for China as ASEAN drops reference to maritime court ruling”.
As it is a pro-US media, its journalists certainly are not pleased with such facts. They thought that China will at lease lose face in Southeast Asia in rejecting the Hague arbitration ruling. However, it is the US instead of China that has sadly lost face now.
In his February summit with ASEAN leaders, US President Obama succeeded in making them “share” US “commitment” “to peaceful resolution of disputes, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes (this blogger’s emphasis)”, which certainly include respect for Hague arbitration ruling that they regard as legal processes.
However, in a meeting in mid June, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi succeeded in making ASEAN members change their minds. As a result they even retracted a statement that displeased China. I speculated at that time that China made them change their minds as it told them China might fight a war to safeguard its sovereignty, rights and interests to the South China Sea.
True enough, China carried busy live-ammunition military drills before and after the ruling and even sends its fully-armed warplanes to conduct regular combat patrol of the South China Sea.
Its top admiral even said that freedom of navigation operation by US warships may end in disaster, which was stupid that I will explain in a separate post.
As a result, China has won an unqualified diplomatic victory in Southeast Asia.
The deadlock described by Reuters in ASEAN about its statement was not caused by the Philippines’ insistence on asking China to respect the arbitration ruling but only on its request to mention the ruling. That was far from the commitment that ASEAN leaders shared in February with Obama for full respect of the ruling.
Now, even the mere mentioning of the ruling insisted by the Philippines was not acceptable. Failing to get other members’ support, the Philippines had to withdraw its request.
Vietnam did not even openly support Philippines’ request though trying to save face, according to Reuters, Vietnamese politician and diplomat ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh said that the communique was not a victory for China, but for ASEAN’s values and principle of finding consensus. He certainly had a bad memory about the incident of ASEAN withdrawing its statement that displeased China in June in Beijing.
Yesterday, US Secretary of State Kerry made great efforts through bilateral talks to make ASEAN member share US commitment to ask China to respect the ruling but failed. He did not even succeed in persuading Laos to mention the ruling.
Now, he has only been able to have Japan and Australia join him in asking China to respect the ruling but neither Japan nor Australia is a Southeast Asian nation.
US Secretary of Defense said that China would end up in self-isolation, but Kerry’s failure in trying to affect the ASEAN proved that it is the US that has ended up in isolation in Southeast Asia now.
In fact, Republican president candidate Trump is now advocating US self-isolation.
I do not think that Trump may win, but at least self-isolation is now quite popular in the US so that Trump may have won enough support to become the candidate.
China, however, is quite popular instead of being isolated in the world now judging by its success in AIIB, de fecto alliance with Russia, investment in pipelines, railways, roads and other infrastructures in Central and South Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa.
It has even succeeded in having India join Shanghai Cooperation Organization in spite of India’s border dispute with it and US efforts to win over India to contain China.
Carter certainly is not pleased with such facts; therefore, he prefers to ignore them when he said that China was self-isolating.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters report, full text of which can be viewed below:
Diplomatic win for China as ASEAN drops reference to maritime court ruling
China scored a diplomatic victory on Monday as Southeast Asian nations dropped a U.S.-backed proposal to mention a landmark international court ruling against Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea in a joint statement.
A weekend deadlock between Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers was broken only when the Philippines withdrew its request to mention the ruling in the face of resolute objections from Cambodia, China’s closest ASEAN ally.
China publicly thanked Phnom Penh for the support, which threw the regional bloc’s meeting in the Laos capital of Vientiane into disarray.
The United States had earlier on Monday urged ASEAN to make a reference to the July 12 ruling by the U.N.-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration, in which U.S. ally Manila won an emphatic legal victory over China on the dispute.
In a meeting with host Laos’ Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “urged ASEAN to reach consensus and issue a joint statement on the arbitral tribunals recent ruling on the South China Sea”, said U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner.
Kerry pressed the issue during other bilateral meetings with ASEAN members, Toner said.
Competing claims with China in the vital shipping lane are among the most contentious issues for the 10 members of ASEAN, who are pulled between their desire to assert their sovereignty while fostering ties with an increasingly assertive Beijing.
The Philippines and Vietnam both wanted the ruling, which denied China’s sweeping claims in the strategic seaway that channels more than $5 trillion in global trade each year, and a call to respect international maritime law to feature in the communique.
But ASEAN works strictly by consensus, and Cambodia rejected the wording on the ruling, diplomats said, backing instead China’s call for bilateral discussions.
Manila backed down to prevent the disagreement leading to the group failing to issue a joint statement after a meeting for only the second time in its 49-year history.
The communique referred instead to the need to find peaceful resolutions to disputes in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, including the United Nations’ law of the sea, to which the court ruling referred.
“We remain seriously concerned about recent and ongoing developments and took note of the concerns expressed by some ministers on the land reclamations and escalation of activities in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region,” the ASEAN communique said.
ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh said that the communique was not a victory for China, but for ASEAN’s values and principle of finding consensus. But he conceded an earlier proposal for the communique referred to the court’s decision.
In a separate statement, China and ASEAN reaffirmed a commitment to freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea and said they would refrain from activities that would complicate or escalate disputes. That included inhabiting any presently uninhabited islands or reefs, it added.