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Fider, Roxan S.

III-LEG

Prof. Rica Castaeda-Panelo

Phil. Foreign Policy


ASEAN v. China: Conflicts and Challenges in Ensuring the
National Security within the South-East Asia
Introduction:
ASEAN is a Regional organization which focuses with the policies
implementing for the benefit of the South East Asian Nations with concerned
to the Economic Stability most probably with the Security Issues of its
member states. The most notable issue now with regards to the National
threat

within

Southeast

Asia

is

the

territorial

disputes

with

China.

Scarborough Shoal, Parecel Islands and Spratlys Islands are the areas
included in the territories which claimed by other ASEAN nations within the
region.

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) is one of the program of the ASEAN
making it the worlds largest security discussion forum of 27 countries plus
the presence of the European Union. This forum includes the high-level
consultations with the major issues including the resolution of conflict in the
SE Asia.
Literary Review:
The ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum) reflects ASEANs preferred
strategy of consensus diplomacy, which is to manage problems
rather than resolve them. The activist states within the ARF (the
United States, Japan, Australia, and Canada) have promoted a more
proactive agenda, but the ASEAN way of requiring consensus has
effectively blocked it. Moreover, the fact that an ASEAN state always

chairs the ARF means that disputes between ASEAN and non-ASEAN
members can only be deliberated with great difficulty.
ASEAN is an association who organized themselves not as a conflictresolver unlike United Nations, it is merely like a familial approach with their
state member, they give their opinions with regards on a certain issues that
involves within the region of the South-east Asia. Intervention is not their
thing but most probably an adviser on what you must do and not. That is
why ASEAN Regional Forum arose, for here to discuss everything with
regards to national security of the whole region, at the same time, with the
help of the non-ASEAN countries. But because of the Regionalist approach,
ARF focuses with the benefit of the ASEAN Nations in the forum. This may be
a hindrance for them to resolve other conflicts which are being involve by the
non-ASEAN state members.
With 27 nations plus the EU gathered for only one day to deal
with pressing international security problems, observers should not
expect more than a general effort at building confidence, at least in
the current format. The only way preventive diplomacy will be
possible at the ARF is if the noninterference principle is moderated,
the ARF develops more practical measures for such diplomacy, and
structural reform occurs that dilutes ASEANs dominance. None of
these changes appear on the horizon.
External Relations with other International Entities can help to resolve
the conflict within the South East Asian region as peaceful as possible.
International governing body can be an advantage because of the laws
existed that set as a guideline to each and every one of the state members.
Diplomacy and Peace are the major factors why ASEAN and any other
International entities existence for it to be preserve and retain. But because
of the independency of the said forum, Superpower states should not use

their power to intimidate and the intervention with the discussion on the
forum must be controlled.
Regional

peace

and

security,

the

Treaty

of

Amity

and

Cooperations peace-oriented principles, and the nuclear weaponfree zone in Southeast Asia benefit all ASEAN members. In the wake
of the growing U.S.-China rivalry, ASEAN provides its members with
a safe collective choice of being pro-ASEAN without antagonizing
China or alienating the United States.
Being a pro-ASEAN is not totally to become nationalistic; its just
that we have to be independent to avoid any conflict of interest and at the
same time, just to protect ourselves from the danger that we might face if
we allied with one of the involved state. Sometimes, being neutral can attain
the peace and diplomacy within the area.
We have to be careful also with the destructive weapons like Nuclear
weapon that can trigger to another arising issue and threat of World war III.
As far as ASEAN is concerned, we settle issues by means of talks and
meetings to prevent the use of fatal method that will bring the peace and
diplomacy at risk.
The South China Sea issue is getting hotter at a time of the
PRCs growing international clout notwithstanding the fact that the
extent of the PRCs claims (its dotted lines over almost the entire
South China Sea) is rightly regarded as dubious by almost everyone
else in the region.
As we all know, the 9-dash line of the PRC to mark their territory in the
South China Sea is really a questionable act. They almost cover the whole
area just to mark their territorial claim on the maritime shelves included in
the SCS. This action of China threatens out the ASEAN nations not just the

Philippines but also the other claimants on the disputed area including
Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, and Singapore. The building of military bases and
many infrastructures that has been continuously developed by the China
symbolizes their eagerness to mark their territorial claims making the area
exclusively for them.
Some analysts warn that there is a growing arms race in East
Asia, including Southeast Asia. According to estimates by the
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), defense
spending by the ASEAN countries (excluding Myanmar for which
reliable data is not available) has roughly doubled in the past
decade (20002010)
Defense Spending by ASEAN Member States in Constant
(2009) US$

1990

2000

2010

ar
Brunei

368

304

327

Darussalam
Cambodia
Indonesia

77
1,829

121
2,025 (for

191 (2009)
6,009

n.a.
1,495

2001)
24.6
2,020

18.4 (2009)
3,259

1,060
3,038
3,304
1,565

1,215
5,855
2,638
n.a.

1,486
7,651
4,336
2,410

million
Economy/Ye

Lao PDR
Malaysia
Myanmar
Philippines
Singapore
Thailand
Viet Nam

I cannot say that because of the actions of the China towards their
claim on the South China Sea, ASEAN nations panicked? No, it is merely a
preparation for, just in case, China do the first move when it comes to the

use of force and intimidation in declaring the area as part of their jurisdiction
that will bring the ASEAN security at risk. We have to prepare, know how to
defend and protect ourselves against to the arising threat within the region.
Now that the China already had naval bases on the Mischief reef and already
marking their own sovereignty and territory on the Spratly Islands, we cant
do nothing but to be ready, at the same time, ask for the assistance of the
international community like United Nations and European Union for the
support on protecting the area and retain the peace, diplomacy and
sovereignty within the South East Asia.
China sees ASEAN as potentially evolving into one "pole" in
its

vision

of

multipolar

world

order.

ASEAN's

fundamental

objective of keeping Southeast Asia a peaceful and neutral region


free from dominance by any regional or outside power is something
which China says it shares. But following Vietnam's withdrawal from
Cambodia, the possibility loomed that Southeast Asia's deep-rooted
suspicions of China would re-surface and lead the former into
hostile alliances with other powers against China. After all, China
and several Southeast Asian countries were locked in conflict over
territorial sovereignty and maritime jurisdiction disputes.
Territory and Jurisdiction are the big factors why ASEAN relations are
at risk. First, the maritime disputes within the region. The claims of the South
East Asian countries(plus the claim of China to the whole South China Sea
covering

the different islands that added up the tensions)including the

Paracel Island, Spratly Islands(locally known as the Kalayaan Island Groups),


and the Scarborough Shoal. And lastly, the overlapping of the Exclusive
Economic Zone that causes the confusion with the practice of sovereignty
within the area.
Dominance cannot be prevented even it is one of the goals of the
ASEAN, now that China is involved within the conflict, practicing their

hegemony to acquire the islands and maritime shelves. The presence of


China on the maritime disputes cannot be set aside since the 9-dash line that
dictates their territorial jurisdiction covers the other EEZ of the ASEAN
state members.
Two important developments further raised the stakes for
the littoral states bordering this sea the growing demand for
hydrocarbons (oil and natural gas) to satisfy the energy needs of
fast-growing economies in the region, in particular China; and the
entry into force of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea
(UNCLOS) in 1994, which would give coastal states sovereign rights
over waters and resources hitherto not under their control.
The primary reason why disputes within the ASEAN region existed is not just
merely because of the territory itself. Territory is just the external perspective
but behind that, the major root cause of this conflictsare the natural
resources that can be gained on the disputed area which geologist said were
rich in the the natural gas, petroleum and oil deposits.

Of course, these

resources can help to gain economic stability since petroleum is globally in


demand for the International market. Being in demand of a certain product
means more income for the country who owns the petroleum shelves.

RESEARCH GAPS/LIMITATIONS:
The contradiction or limitations including in this issue is the lack of
communication and strong binding relationship within the involved countries
in ASEAN and ARF since China is not really a part of ASEAN. Yes, we are
included in one organization but because of the territorial disposition when it
comes to the claims of jurisdictions, it sets as the hindrance and barrier to
attain unity and cooperation within the region. Chinas presence within the
disputed areas is also a barrier for the settlement of the diplomacy in SE

Asia. We cannot do or start any primary plans and actions with regards to the
issue since China infrastructure in Parecel islands and Spratly Islands are
there, serve as their naval bases to secure these areas against the
intruders who tries to trespass within their jurisdiction.

CONCLUSION:
The decision of the higher court, at the same time, the attention of ASEAN
and ARF can help to settle down or to cool down, maybe, the issues between
the conflicting parties. Now that the whole ASEAN members is facing the
challenge on How to retain diplomacy, peace, security and sovereignty in
the SE Asia? Meetings and forums can help us to acquire new ideas and
strategies on how to resolute the issue. Having a personal talks not just with
the ASEAN state-members which are involve in the conflict but with the
China itself who has the major contribution with the security concerns and
issues now

REFERENCES:
http://thediplomat.com/2016/06/no-brexit-repeat-in-asean/
Simon, Sheldon W., The ASEAN Regional Forum: Beyond the Talk Shop?(2013)
(p. 1)
Simon, Sheldon W., The ASEAN Regional Forum: Beyond the Talk Shop?(2013)
(p. 2)
Hashim, Zainan Hasfi., ASEAN Security Cooperation: Challenges and
Prospects(2009) (p. 13)
Baviera, Aileen S. P., Chinas Relations with Southeast Asia: Political Security
and Economic Interest (p. 8)

Baviera, Aileen S. P., China-ASEAN Conflict and Cooperation in the South


China Sea: Managing Power Assymetry (p. 204)
Acherya, Amitav, ASEAN 2030: Challenges of Building a Mature Political and
Security Community: South China Sea Dispute (p. 8)
Acherya, Amitav, ASEAN 2030: Challenges of Building a Mature Political and
Security Community: An Arms Race? (p. 10)