ASEAN Summit’s China Tilt Portends a New World Order

The South China Sea quandary continues. In summer of 2016, the international Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague issued a ruling in a case brought by the Philippines, rejecting China’s claims to most of the sea along with construction of artificial islands. The Philippines, under Rodrigo Duterte, refused to embrace the ruling – instead moving closer to China in the hope of trade deals. So it’s no surprise that other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, during a 50 anniversary meeting in Manila, backed away from a statement criticizing China for failing to respect members’ claims under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, explains author June Teufel Dreyer, professor of political science with the University of Miami. In turn, the United States has halted freedom-of-navigation exercises in the South China Sea. “Capitulation to China’s wishes does not necessarily translate into friendship,” Dreyer warns. The United States, ASEAN and other nations must clarify foreign policy to stand up for international norms. Or, the world must adjust to a new regional order, with China firmly in charge of the South China Sea.