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ASEAN Puts up United Front Against China


A little less than a year ago an ASEAN summit collapsed in disarray when China-allied Cambodia scuttled all attempts to discuss how to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea. This year, with the tiny kingdom of Brunei holding the revolving ASEAN chairmanship, developing a “code of conduct” for disputed areas is priority number one.

Everyone seems upbeat. ASEAN leaders agreed to put aside their differences and overlapping claims and settle disputes with China together. President of the Philippines Benigno Aquino III said things were moving in “the right direction.” “[B]oth ASEAN and China wish to promote a calm and peaceful atmosphere and to urgently work on the Code of Conduct,” said Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei. An ASEAN-China meeting is tentatively scheduled for August. These are hopeful signs.

Once again, China’s belligerence has caused its neighbors to band together against Beijing. We’ll see in August if China is truly interested in working with the neighbors, not against them, to resolve sensitive disputes.

[ASEAN image courtesy Getty]

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