South China Sea concerns cause unprecedented failure at ASEAN conferenceJuly 27, 2012
The unprecedented failure of the 45th Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Meeting in Phnom Penh in June to issue a joint communique that captured the decisions of the meeting was as disappointing as it was predictable.
Prior to this, ASEAN, whose current motto is “One Community, One Destiny”, had never failed to issue a collective statement at the conclusion of their annual summit in its 45-year history. At the
meeting, the current ASEAN chair, Cambodia, thwarted Philippines’ push to include a statement on the territorial disputes in the South China Sea on grounds that it did not want to add to the rising political temperature on the matter.
The absence of the joint communique was nothing short of a monumental disappointment and presents a potentially morale-sapping loss of face on the bloc’s part to its powerful regional northern neighbor, China in dealing in the issue. The failure of ASEAN to agree and endorse a common position on this divisive matter is effectively an act of ignoring the elephant in the room and a glaring display of disunity among its member nations.
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