Hang together or hang separately?


With the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) expected to deliver its ruling on the Philippines-China dispute over maritime jurisdiction in the South China Sea (SCS) as early as next month, China has embarked on a diplomatic offensive to rally international support to downplay the court’s decision.

To this end, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently caused a furore within Asean circles when the official Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying that “China has reached a four-point consensus with Brunei, Cambodia and Laos”. Details of the consensus were summarily released on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website.

The consensus was reported to include these four points : the SCS dispute is between individual states rather than Asean as a bloc; these countries should be left to settle the dispute by themselves; they should do so without use or threat of force; and China and Asean should cooperate to ensure peace in the South China Sea.