Sunday, June 19, 2016

Consensus Paralysis

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) issued a statement clearly directed at opposing China's actions in the South China Sea. Then China sprang into action:

But, less than three hours after the ASEAN statement was released by the Malaysian Foreign Ministry, a spokeswoman retracted the document, saying that “urgent amendments” were needed.

ASEAN relies on consensus. And China relies on that to thwart opposition by the body as a whole.

This time, apparently, Laos broke under pressure from Peking.

In the past, China has used Cambodia to deny ASEAN consensus if it would adversely affect China.

Although it was a defeat for China in the sense that they failed to prevent an airing of true sentiment before it went out, even briefly.

Sending the carriers Stennis and Reagan with their supporting ships (and I assume 2-4 nuclear attack subs) to the western Pacific is a nice touch:

In a show of strength before an international court’s ruling on China’s claims in the South China Sea, the US Navy sent two aircraft carriers and their accompanying ships on training drills in the western Pacific Ocean Saturday.

Ultimately, it is United States and allied naval power that will keep the South China Sea international waters, not any ruling or treaty.

Although since Laos and Cambodia don't border on the South China Sea, perhaps the non-Chinese states should form an Association of South China Sea Nations narrowly focused on issues regarding control of the region with rules that don't allow China to pick off a weak member of the herd.

All for one (statement) and one for all China is no way to defend ASEAN interests in the region.