It has been just five years since China initiated its major land reclamation in the South China Sea, and the country has already shifted the territorial status quo in its favour – without facing any international pushback. The anniversary of the start of its island building underscores the transformed geopolitics in a corridor central to the international maritime order.
At the recently concluded 33rd ASEAN Summit, ASEAN member states expressed their desire to complete the Single Draft Negotiating Text for the Code of Conduct (COC) by next year to resolve the maritime dispute in the South China Sea.
Singapore can now breathe easier as the 33rd ASEAN Summit came to a close yesterday, marking the end of its chairmanship. The second ASEAN summit of the year was a “star-studded affair” compared to the earlier one held in April.
On his week-long tour of Asia, United States (US) Vice President Mike Pence has been promoting a vision of a “free and open” Indo-Pacific region, characterised by unimpeded trade flows, freedom of navigation, and respect for the rule of law, national sovereignty, and existing frontiers. The question is whether this vision of an Indo-Pacific free of “authoritarianism and aggression” is achievable.One country that seems willing to contribute to realising this vision is Japan.