After the conclusion of the 27th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits chaired by Malaysia here in late November 2015, I felt optimistic the year 2016 might see a lessening of tensions in the South China Sea and perhaps even witness a Code of Conduct being signed between all the claimant states. I suppose this was hoping too much! What we have seen instead is a rapid increase in tensions caused by China’s actions in the South China Sea. Understandably, claimant ASEAN states are anxious and concerned over these latest developments. Since the start of this year, China has conducted several test flights from its airfield in the Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands Group. There was also news reports that China had moved an oil rig into disputed waters between China and Vietnam. This brings to mind the January 1974 Chinese/Vietnamese clash over the Paracel Islands with Vietnam suffering heavy losses and being evicted from the Paracels. More recently it has been reported and confirmed that China has installed long-range anti-aircraft missiles on Woody Island in the disputed Paracels chain. This does not auger well for calm and confidence-building between the various ASEAN claimant states and the Republic of China. In addition, the occasional reported intrusions of Chinese coastguard vessels into other nations’ territorial waters is cause for concern. The recent statement by the US and some European nations that China must abide by the decision to be made by the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, hearing the Philippines request to invalidate China’s claims, is rather premature in my humble opinion.
Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/02/128804/ripples-and-rumbles-over-south-china-sea