Confluence of Interests?
By Erick San Juan
The recently concluded 18th ASEAN Summit held in Indonesia was generally successful based on the reported results which was summarized in ten major issues that were agreed upon by its members.
It was very clear that peace and security in the region is the utmost goal of the ASEAN members because these are the pillars of development. That is why every member helped in finding solutions to the border conflict between Thailand and Cambodia.
What worries me is the stability of the region, by addressing the issue peacefully on the disputed area in the South China Sea. The ASEAN region (and the rest of the world) is still in the wait and see mode for a possible scenario that might trigger a regional conflict. I am not an alarmist but the Asians are very well aware of several events in the past wherein China has shown its rather unusual behavior in treating its neighbors when it comes to the issue of that “contested area.”
Why unusual? China is promoting the peaceful solution to the said dispute and even reminded ASEAN members/claimants of adherence to the Declaration on the Code of Conduct. But Beijing’s actions on certain incidence were somehow different. Like the Philippine experience in early March of a reported “harassment” by Chinese patrol boats on oil exploration vessels.
To co-exist peacefully, every nation should take into consideration the situation of less powerful sovereign states. Bullying a neighbor could create a grim scenario and may drag the whole region in a mutually assured destruction,
I have mentioned in recent past the analysis of some geostrategists on the significance of China’s aircraft carrier to be sailing in the South China Sea.
According to Admiral Robert Willard, Chief of the US Pacific Command, the deployment of China‘s first aircraft carrier will bring a significant “change in perception” in the balance of power in the Asian region. He also put emphasis on China’s massive military build-up that includes the rapid development of ballistic missiles. (AP)
The unprecedented economic (and military) rise of China in recent decades led them to look for outside sources of natural resources – especially hydrocarbon for their growing energy needs. They don’t have to look far, as the contested area in the South China Sea is believed to have very rich minerals – oil and natural gas. Obviously, this could be one of the reasons why the “bully thy neighbor” attitude of Beijing is in effect.
Aside from the fact that the SCS is one of the busiest waterways in the world where hundreds of tankers and cargo vessels passed through everyday. And, this is the reality why Uncle Sam has also made his presence felt in the region that made China uncomfortable and rethink its military position.
The brewing tensions in this region has various undercurrents played by both powerful and less powerful nations to serve their country’s interests.
Summits, conferences and similar meetings of sovereign nations could only do much to solve conflicts and of coming together in addressing possible solutions economically. Although in reality, the real interest of every country is in its advantage and how they will be going to achieve this without any prejudice to their neighbors.
The hidden agenda of the powerful nations will soon come out and our country and the rest of Asia should be on their guard and be wary of the possible confluence of events. Real interests will surface and friendly relations might suffer in the process if we will let them have their way.