There is no universal agreement on the interpretation of key provisions in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Indeed, important differences are emerging between Southeast Asian nations and the US regarding the theory and enforcement of freedom of navigation.
In response to the dissolution of the main opposition and the perceived deterioration of human rights and democracy in Cambodia, the United States and European Union have taken measures in an attempt to reverse Cambodia’s democratic backsliding.
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. visited China between March 18-21, 2019. Shortly after the visit, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo stated that the country has never shelved the South China Sea arbitration award.
The Philippines is undertaking a government-sponsored marine scientific expedition to the Spratlys area. While billed as an advance in scientific knowledge, it may be perceived to be a soft assertion of sovereignty.
According to the Philippines, the presence of about 275 Chinese vessels near Thitu between January and March 2019 violated its “sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction”. It filed a diplomatic protest to this effect.
Pakistan has been trying to draw foreign direct investment, and one of the important developments during Mahathir’s visit was the ground breaking ceremony for Malaysian car maker Proton’s assembly plant near Karachi in Sindh Province.
Two former Philippines officials filed a complaint with the ICC against China for “crimes against humanity”, alleging that President Xi Jinping, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and the Chinese Ambassador perpetrated environmental damage in the South China Sea.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is facing significant challenges to his legitimacy. He appears to be in a dilemma over how to deal with measures taken by the European Union to suspend the Kingdom’s preferential access to the EU Single Market.
China’s policy towards the Myitsone dam has seen several changes since Myanmar suspended the project in 2011. The NLD government pursued for compensation for reneging on the terms of the contract rather than resuming the project.
There is certainly no shortage of warmongering blaring from both China and the US regarding the South China Sea. Indeed, a recent public tit-for-tat illustrates both the danger of such public advocacy and of taking it seriously.