South China Sea Dispute Fracturing Asean Unity?

It would be rude to disagree with the Chinese minister in public.”

It appears the South China Sea dispute is fracturing Asean unity.

Reports in The Straits Times today show China has succeeded in dividing Asean over the dispute. China is said to have presented a 10-point consensus statement that Asean did not accept. This was at a meeting of the foreign ministers of China and Asean on Tuesday.

The disagreements led to the preparation of an Asean statement expressing “serious concerns over recent developments” to be read out at a joint press conference with the Chinese delegation.

But, strangely, Asean decided not to attend any such press briefing, citing as a reason that “it would be rude to disagree with the Chinese minister in public.”

That, to me, is nothing short of slavish behaviour!

Reports indicate that China also “lobbied its friends in the grouping to block” the statement that Asean had planned to issue to the media separately.

Just who are those friends of China within Asean? I hope it is not Singapore.

The world knows China has cosied up to Pakistan to counter India in South Asia.

But who is playing the role of Pakistan for China within Asean to leave the grouping divided?

G Joslin Vethakumar

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