Japan, USA, Asean must team up to counter China&’s maritime advance
It is becoming apparent that China intends to strengthen its hegemony in the South China Sea while stalling for time in drawing up a code of conduct to avoid hostilities.
China and the Asean held the first official talks among senior officials to move toward deciding on a code of conduct to regulate the activities of countries concerned in the South China Sea.
Yet China remained halfhearted over the issue throughout the talks, with the meeting only deciding on the establishment of a meeting of experts.
In the South China Sea, China is in conflict with such Asean countries as the Philippines and Vietnam regarding sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and other islands and reefs.
China asserts a claim of exclusive sovereignty over not only the Spratly Islands but nearly all of the South China Sea.
For over a decade, the Asean countries have been trying to secure agreement from China on the establishment of rules of conduct to prevent overt hostilities in the South China Sea. Yet, with its overwhelming military and economic power, China refused to hold such a meeting until recently.
In the South China Sea, with no code of conduct for concerned countries, the crisis is only deepening. The current focal point lies in the conflict between the Philippines and China.
It is understandable that the Philippines, pressured physically by China, has been intensifying relations with the USA and Japan.
For both Japan and the USA, which face the expanding presence of China in the East China Sea and the western Pacific, the significance of cooperating with Asean member countries by taking concerted actions with them is not limited to the South China Sea. It will help their efforts to check China from expanding its maritime activities elsewhere as well.
The Yomiuri Shimbun