Hopes of resolving the South China Sea’s bitter territorial disputes have once again proven illusory.
Meeting in Myanmar over the week-end, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) shied away from backing the Filipino proposal for a freeze on destabilising unilateral challenges to the territorial status quo.
Although this is typical of ASEAN’s limp diplomacy, even a strong Southeast Asian stance would be inadequate in the face of a great immovable: Chinese intransigence.
Beijing’s steadfast determination to press on with plans to extend its de facto sovereignty means that any well-intentioned initiative to establish a moratorium on unilateral challenges to the territorial status quo is quite literally dead in the water.
A brutally realist approach to the South China Sea’s territorial disputes is now needed.