Troubling scenario

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

WHAT is China up to? At this point in the diplomatic relations among nations in Southeast Asia, the catalyst appears to be that country. This is simply because it has attained in recent years what has been recognized as the world’s second biggest economy. And it is somewhat acting as a bully.

China is trying to assert its claim over the East and South China Sea.

Related to this, the recent decision of Australia to declare its support to the stand of the United States and Japan in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has added fuel to the seething conflict in the region. Australia is considered one of the rising economic powers that stand behind Asean. Now it considers China’s moves in the region as highly destabilizing.


The defense minister of Australia is supporting the view of his American counterpart, who accused China “of infringing on international law by behaving aggressively towards its rivals for territory in the South China Sea.”

The American defense minister, speaking in Singapore days ago, accused China of some infractions, including those against the Philippines and Vietnam, the two most vocal critics of Beijing’s territorial claims.

US Defense Minister Chuck Hagel said that, in recent months, China has undertaken destabilizing, unilateral actions in asserting its claims in the South and East China Sea. Likewise, during his talk during the opening of the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, the Japanese defense minister made a dig at China, suggesting that countries should “respect the rule of law.”

In Singapore, when Japan’s defense minister greeted the deputy chief of staff of China’s People’s Liberation Army at a regional security forum over the weekend, he was
undiplomatically snubbed.

The Chinese official may have been incensed by the prime minister’s comment that Japan was “implicitly holding China responsible for territorial disputes in the East and South China Sea.” Then there was the US defense secretary’s statement that Beijing was destabilizing the region.

The Australian defense minister clarified that his country did not take sides in the said territorial disputes but said Canberra would attempt to persuade Asian superpowers “that there was another way.”

The US, Australia and Japan are very “concerned that unilateral action is destabilizing the region, particularly the East China Sea.” In affirming US support of the Australian view, Hagel said “Yes, to the extent that it is destabilization.”

Analysts also noted that the Shangri-La Dialogue, a security forum for government officials, military officers and defense experts, is a ticklish diplomatic meeting considering its participants. It could hinder the renewal of good relations between the participants, being the first of such gathering in years.

But there has been achieved the possibility of arriving at palpable efforts to attain a scenario of peace among the countries in South and East Asia.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 05, 2014.


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