The ASEAN Crisis, Part 2: Why Can’t ASEAN Agree on the South China Sea?

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Part 1 of this three-part series argued that the South China Sea Dispute poses an existential threat to ASEAN as a regional organization. The South China Sea Dispute challenges ASEAN’s ability to deal with regional militarization, guarantee member states’ economic benefits, ensure ASEAN citizens’ safety when fishing, and protect Southeast Asia’s marine environment. Part 2, as follows, considers the question of why ASEAN has failed to mediate the South China Sea dispute.

While analysts around the world have criticized ASEAN’s disunity in the confrontation with China, most fail to pay attention to the greater picture of ASEAN crisis as a regional organization. The South China Sea disputes reveal a more basic dilemma, between further integration and preservation of national sovereignty. As such, ASEAN’s failure is not simply the result of Chinese efforts to divide ASEAN members. Multiple factors coexisting at three levels – the state level, international level, and organizational level – simultaneously play a role in hindering ASEAN unity.

The ASEAN Crisis, Part 2: Why Can’t ASEAN Agree on the South China Sea?

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