ASEAN should confront China now…

…before China grows stronger. That is the thrust of this analysis by Yeremia Lalisang in the Jakarta Post who takes a less confident view of the outcome of the ASEAN summit in Brunei. Lalisang says the summit didnt conclude with any strong statement on the issue, which will only encourage China to be more assertive in its claim over the South China Sea. Lalisang, countrary to ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh’s comments, describes the outcome of the latest summit as procrastination on the part of ASEAN.

With both internal and external limitations facing policymakers in Beijing, ASEAN still appears reluctant to issue the kind of strong statements necessary to show its commitment to making significant progress in managing the dispute.

This strategy of buying time, from the perspective of ASEAN–China relations, will not result in peaceful dispute settlement. China is continuing to grow larger both militarily and economically.

Any further delay in settling this dispute will only allow China to raise its bargaining power relative to ASEAN’s.

When the situation arises in which ASEAN cannot catch up with China, that will be the time when peaceful dispute settlement is no longer plausible.