Activities of the Claimants


China is expected to start carrying tourists to Paracel islands


A retrofitted cruise ship is expected to soon start carrying tourists to Paracel islands. Luo Baoming, a delegate to the 18th Chinese Party Congress from Hainan Province, who is also Party Secretary of Hainan Provincial Committee of CPC, said promoting tourism and the development of local tourism resources will spur economic growth of the so-called Sansha. The refitted Princess Yexiang can carry 300 passengers who will be charged 10,000 yuan ($1,600) during peak season, Xinhua reported.

China to cooperate with Asean on the formulation of the COC

Speaking at a press conference, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei said “China stays in communication with ASEAN countries on the formulation of the COC. Both sides agree that in the current situation, we should comprehensively and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), maintain the momentum of dialogue, actively create conditions and work towards finally reaching the COC based on consensus through consultation.”

Scholars discuss Asia-Pacific security in Beijing

More than 60 defence researchers from 21 nations attended a forum that started in Beijing on November 16th to discuss security in the Asia-Pacific region. The fourth Xiangshan Forum is organised by the China Association for Military Science to promote exchanges of opinions among defence scholars from around the world.

China does not want South China Sea overshadowing summit

The 21st ASEAN Summit held in Cambodia this week should not be overshadowed by a dispute over the South China Sea as the situation is under control and countries involved can resolve differences themselves, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying said. Fu said over the past few years there had been a "phenomenon" of the South China Sea issue being "hyped up" whenever there was a regional or international meeting involving China and its neighbours in the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).


Philippines to tackle sea Code of Conduct with China during ASEAN Summit

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III will urge China during ASEAN Summit in Cambodia to clearly define a set of rules to avoid conflict in the South China Sea, a Philippine Foreign Affairs official said on Wednesday. “We hope China would respond positively, and immediately tackle this issue so we can have something binding,” said Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez at a press briefing in Malacañang.

Aquino urges Asean to unite on sea dispute


Philippine President Benigno Aquino urged Southeast Asian countries to present a united front to China over the South China Sea at an upcoming regional summit. Aquino said all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations should speak with one voice at the East Asia summit in Cambodia. Aquino said he hoped other countries outside of Asean realized it was necessary to maintain stability in the South China Sea for the region’s growth to continue.


Vietnamese Prime Minister meets with Philippine President


Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and President of the Philippines Benigno Aquino affirmed the necessity to implement ASEAN’s six-point principles on the East Sea and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea . They also noted the soon building of the Code of Conduct between ASEAN and China in the East Sea during their meeting in Phnom Penh , Cambodia , on November 18th outside the 21 st ASEAN Summit. The two leaders agreed the two nations have much in common and share mutual concerns, which they described as a basis to enhance bilateral relations to anew height.

The U.S.

U.S. determined to remain "Pacific Power"

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emphasized the importance of the Indo-Pacific rim to U.S. strategic interests during an address at the launch of the Perth USAsia Centre, in Western Australia. She told an audience of academics and dignitaries that the Indo-Pacific was at the heart of an American vision of itself as a "pacific power".

Regional Snapshots

Australia, U.S. held Ministerial Consultations 

On November 14th, the Australia-United States Ministerial (AUSMIN) consultations took place in Perth, Australia. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and their Australian counterparts, Minister for Defense Stephen Smith, Minister for Foreign Affairs Bob Carr attended this meeting. Speaking after the meeting, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Bob Carr said that Canberra and Washington shares the same view which is aimed at supporting long-term peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the very strong alliance between Australia and the U.S. remains an instrument of peace and prosperity for Americans, for Australians, and for all people who reside in this important region of the world.

Thailand, US ink defence 'vision'


Thailand and the US have signed a joint vision statement for a new Thai-US Defence Alliance intended to promote a security partnership between the two nations. US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta met Thai Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat to discuss defence cooperation between the two nations. After the two-hour meeting at the Defence Ministry, Mr Panetta and ACM Sukumpol signed the 2012 joint vision statement for the Thai-US Defence Alliance, which focuses on four areas: Partnering to promote regional security in Southeast Asia; Supporting stability in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond; Bilateral and multilateral interoperability and readiness; Relationship building, coordination and collaboration at all levels.

Philippines, U.S. set joint military exercises for 2013

Military officials of the United States and the Philippines are now finalizing a list of their joint military exercises next year, a top official said. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Jessie Dellosa said the final list will be ready by next month. The list will be approved by the U.S. Pacific Command and Philippine military officials.

Asean urges ‘hotline’ with China over sea row

Southeast Asian nations will propose opening a “hotline” with China aimed at defusing tensions over the South China Sea, Asean’s chief said. Surin Pitsuwan, secretary-general of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said after a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers that they had agreed to back the plan first mooted by Indonesia. “This of course will be brought up to our Chinese friends. We can call it a red line, we can give it a sense of urgency that if there is anything developing that we all will be phoned… trying to consult, trying to coordinate, trying to contain any possible spillover of any… incident, accident, miscalculation, misunderstanding”, Surin told reporters.

ASEAN leaders launch institute for peace, reconciliation

The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Sunday (November 18th) launched the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR), aiming at reviewing ASEAN cooperation and contributing to peace and reconciliation in the region.

ASEAN Summit opens in Cambodia


The 21st ASEAN Summit opened in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on November 18th with member country leaders taking part. Themed “One Community, One Destiny” the three-day Summit and related meetings are expected to tackle such issues as ASEAN community building, regional security and peace, as well as strengthening cooperation between bloc partners. Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, said the event recognises ASEAN’s major achievements over the past 45 years, especially recent efforts in building a common community.

Commentaries & Analyses

The New Triangular Diplomacy: India, China and America at Sea


Asia is home to many large states that are wedded to nationalism and territorial sovereignty, opposed to local ambitions for regional hegemony. One of these important regional powers is India—the third largest economy in Asia, and the fourth biggest spender on defense in the Indo-Pacific after the United States, China and Japan. India’s potential could contribute significantly to the new balance of power in Asia as recognized by both Washington and Beijing. The U.S. military rebalance towards Asia is marked by a profound wariness of China’s growing power and great enthusiasm to strengthen the partnership with India. This has set in motion what could be a consequent triangular dynamic in the Indo-Pacific. As the strategic gap between India and China grows—for China is rising much faster than India—Delhi can only bridge it through a combination of internal and external balancing. An alliance with Washington, then, would seem natural for Delhi. However, China, clearly, has the upper hand in the current triangular dynamic with India and the United States. It could accommodate either Delhi or Washington to limit the depth of a prospective India-U.S. strategic partnership. Given the current ambiguities in Washington, Beijing and Delhi, there is much uncertainty surrounding the direction of the triangular dynamic between them. One thing, though, is certain. The emergence of China and India as naval powers and the intersection of their maritime policies with those of the United States are bound to churn the security politics of the Indo-Pacific for decades to come.

The U.S. military pivot to Asia

The Philippines, Australia and other parts of the region have seen a resurgence of U.S. warships, planes and personnel since President Barack Obama announced a "pivot" in foreign, economic and security policy towards Asia late last year. The Pentagon says the United States has "no intention of re-establishing bases in the Philippines." But activity in Subic, a breezy coastal city about 80 km (50 miles) north of Manila that has the feel of a tidy American suburb with shopping malls, fast-food outlets and well-lit streets, resembles a buildup. Last month, 70 U.S. Navy ships had passed through Subic, more than the 55 in 2011 and the 51 in 2010. The Pentagon says more than 100 U.S. planes stop over each month at Clark, another former U.S. base located between Manila and Subic. As part of the shift, the U.S. military is now rotating the first of up to 2,500 Marines through northern Australia for training and will have up to four Littoral Combat Ships calling in and out of Singapore from next year. James Hardy, Asia-Pacific editor of IHS Jane's Defense Weekly, said there was no real need for the United States to have conventional forces in Europe now, so it made sense to look to the Asia-Pacific region as a major area of operations, along with the Middle East. "The U.S. is rebalancing for very clear reasons - the 21st century is going to be the Asian century - and it has a lot to gain from being engaged and more to lose by not being engaged," he said. "Chinese missteps in the past two years have opened the door for the U.S."

What is the role of ASEAN in resolving South China Sea dispute?

A great deal of unrealistic hope has been invested in the notion that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will form a bulwark against China's expansion into Southeast Asian waters. However, ASEAN operates on the principles of consensus and non-confrontational bargaining, in this instance a fatal flaw. Four of its 10 members - Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand - have consistently given priority to preserving cozy bilateral relations. Thus divided, ASEAN's members have jawed endlessly in search of a framework that will minimally satisfy Beijing's ambitions. For several years now, hopes of a diplomatic breakthrough have risen in the autumn months, while the South China Sea is roiled by monsoons. Come calmer weather, Beijing's provocations multiply, directed in particular at harassment of Vietnamese and Filipino fishermen and at scaring off energy companies that presume to prospect for seabed oil and gas under licenses granted by Hanoi or Manila. If ASEAN won't fill the breach, who will? The US and the rest of the world require a solid argument to justify sustained and effective engagement. Recently burned by the weapons of mass destruction chimera in Iraq, the American public is wary of another foreign military adventure. Japan is congenitally wary of an assertive posture. If they want more from the US and its allies than expressions of determination to uphold freedom of navigation through the South China Sea, the Southeast Asian nations on the sea’s littoral must make a compelling case that they need and merit assistance.