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Indirect Cost Imposition Strategies in the South China Sea: U.S. Leadership and ASEAN Centrality; By

C3S Paper No. 0101/ 2015


In August 1967, when the foreign ministers from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines Singapore and Thailand met in Bangkok to form the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), they declared that ASEAN was “open for participation to all States in the South-East Asian Region.”[1] This aspiration was met over the following years with the admission of Brunei in 1984, Vietnam in 1995, Laos and Myanmar in 1997, and Cambodia in 1999. Timor-Leste’s membership is pending.

Since its founding, ASEAN has sought to place itself at the center of Southeast Asia’s security architecture, most notably with the creation of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 1994, Asia-Pacific Plus Three in 1997, East Asia Summit in 2005, ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus in 2010 and the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum in 2012.

ASEAN has also sought to preserve Southeast Asia’s autonomy from intervention by external powers. The first step towards this end was taken during the Cold War with the adoption of the Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality Declaration (ZOPFAN) in Kuala Lumpur in November 1971.[2] The declaration stated:

  1. That Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand are determined to exert initially necessary efforts to secure the recognition of, and respect for, South East Asia as a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality, free from any form or manner of interference by outside Powers[emphasis added];

  2. That South East Asian countries should make concerted efforts to broaden the areas of cooperation which would contribute to their strength, solidarity and closer relationship.

A major turning point in reinforcing ASEAN’s centrality in regional security affairs and as a guarantor of Southeast Asia’s autonomy was reached in 1976 with the adoption of the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) by the heads of state/government of the five founding members.[3] This treaty noted the desire of ASEAN states “to enhance peace, friendship and mutual cooperation on matters affecting Southeast Asia” by adhering to six principles:

  1. Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity of all nations;

  2. The right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion [emphasis added];

  3. Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another;

  4. Settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful means;

  5. Renunciation of the threat or use of force;

  6. Effective cooperation among themselves.

The ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation was “open for accession by other States in Southeast Asia” and became a prerequisite for membership in the Association. Later, accession to the ASEAN TAC was a requirement for external states in order to join the East Asia Summit.

Finally, in December 1995 ASEAN adopted the Treaty on the South East Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (SEANWFZ).[4]The treaty committed each member of ASEAN:

… not to, anywhere inside or outside the Zone:

(a) develop, manufacture or otherwise acquire, possess or have control over nuclear weapons;

(b) station or transport nuclear weapons by any means; or

(c) test or use nuclear weapons.

This treaty for the first time defined the geographical limits of Southeast Asia as follows:

(a) “Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone”, hereinafter referred to as the “Zone”, means the area comprising the territories of all States in Southeast Asia, namely, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and their respective continental shelves and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ)[emphasis added];

(b) “territory” means the land territory, internal waters, territorial sea, archipelagic waters, the seabed and the sub-soil thereof and the airspace above them [emphasis added].

Each new member of ASEAN was required to subscribe to all of the above declarations and treaties.

A second major turning point in ASEAN’s endeavor to ensure its centrality in regional security affairs and as guarantor of Southeast Asia’s autonomy came in October 2003 when ASEAN heads of government/state adopted the Declaration of ASEAN Concord II (Bali Concord II).[5] The declaration announced the goal of establishing an ASEAN Community “comprised of three communities: ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC), ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Committee” by 2020. This deadline was brought forward later to the end of 2015.

The Declaration of ASEAN Concord II stated that:

The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) is the key code of conduct governing relations between states and a diplomatic instrument for the promotion of peace and stability in the region…and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) shall remain the primary forum in enhancing political and security cooperation in the Asia Pacific region, as well as the pivot in building peace and stability in the region. ASEAN shall enhance its role in further advancing the stages of cooperation within the ARF to ensure the security of the Asia Pacific region.

In 2009, ASEAN adopted a blueprint for the APSC that reiterated ASEAN’s centrality and proactive role in the regional architecture.[6] The Blueprint also declared that the APSC would “uphold existing ASEAN political instruments” such as ZOPFAN, ASEAN TAC, SEANWFZ “which play a pivotal role in the area of confidence building measures, preventive diplomacy and pacific approaches to conflict resolution.”

As ASEAN progressed its plans to establish an ASEAN Community and an ASEAN Political-Security Community by the end of 2015 no single issue has been as divisive in reaching these objectives than territorial disputes in the South China Sea between ASEAN members and China.


ASEAN first raised its concerns about territorial disputes in the South China Sea in the early and mid-1990s.[7] In July 1992,ASEAN issued its first statement on the South China Sea in response to rising tensions between China and Vietnam (not yet a member of ASEAN) over oil exploration in contested waters. ASEAN called on the unnamed parties “to exercise restraint.”[8] This call went unheeded and both China and Vietnam proceeded to take control of unoccupied islets and reefs comprising the Spratly archipelago.

In March 1995, ASEAN issued its second statement on the South China Sea in response to China’s occupation of Mischief Reef claimed by the Philippines. ASEAN ministers expressed their “serious concern” and urged the two parties “to refrain from taking actions that de-stabilize the situation.”[9]Over the next five years ASEAN and China entered into fruitless negotiations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).

In December 2002, the two sides adopted the expedient of agreeing to a non-binding political statement entitled Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). Point 5 stated:

The Parties undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability including, among others, refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features and to handle their differences in a constructive manner [emphasis added].

The DOC set out four trust and confidence-building measures and five voluntary cooperative activities. Significantly, the parties reaffirmed “that the adoption of a code of conduct in the South China Sea would further promote peace and stability in the region and agree to work, on the basis of consensus, towards the eventual attainment of this objective [emphasis added].”[10]It took another twenty-five months before ASEAN and China reached agreement on the terms of reference for a Joint ASEAN-China Working Group (JWG) to implement the DOC.[11] The JWG spent the next six years debating twenty-one drafts before they agreed on Guidelines to Implement the DOC.[12]

In January 2012, ASEAN and China agreed to set up four expert committees on maritime scientific research, environmental protection, search and rescue, and transnational crime based on four of the five cooperative activities included in the 2002 DOC. Significantly, no expert committee on safety of navigation and communication at sea was established due to its contentious nature.

Another two years passed before ASEAN and China at long last commenced their first formal consultations on a COC within the framework of the Joint Working Group on the Implementation of the DOC. As of February 2015, despite subsequent meetings of the JWG, not one single trust or confidence-building measure or cooperative activity has commenced.

Most recently, at an ASEAN Foreign Ministers Retreat held in Malaysia in late January, according to the ASEAN Chair, “the ministers instructed our senor officials to intensify efforts towards achieving the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and work vigorously towards the early conclusion of the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea.”[13]

Since 2009, when China officially tabled its ambit nine-dash line map claiming all the land features (rocks, reefs, submerged shoals and islands) and adjacent waters, comprising an estimated sixty-two percent of the South China Sea,[14] China has undertaken a number of assertive – if not aggressive – actions to consolidate and expand its control over the South China Sea. These actions include but are not limited to:

  1. harassmentof Vietnamese, Filipino and other fishermen operating in waters within China’s nine-dash linein the South China Sea including ramming, sinking, destruction and/or theft of property, and arrest of their crews and confiscation of their fish catch;

  2. threatening and/or cutting the cables of ships engaged in seismic surveys within the Exclusive Economic Zones of Vietnam and the Philippines;

  3. the virtual annexation of Scarborough Shoal[15] and the investment (in a military sense) of Second Thomas Reef claimed by the Philippines by permanently stationing armed Chinese maritime enforcement vessels in surrounding waters and harassing Filipino attempts to resupply the marines;

  4. encouragement of Chinese fishermen to poach in waters where China’s nine-dash line claim overlaps with the EEZs of littoral states;

  5. coercion by Chinese maritime law enforcement ships to force Southeast Asian authorities to release Chinese fishermen who have been apprehended for illegal fishing;

  6. deployment of the HD 981 mega oil drilling platform, accompanied by an armada of 80 to 100 escorts (including naval warships, maritime enforcement agency vessels, tug boats, and fishing craft associated with China’s militia) into Vietnam’s EEZ and the use of such tactics as ramming and high-pressure fire hoses against Vietnamese Coast Guard and Fishery Surveillance Force vessels;

  7. harassment and other dangerous encounters with U.S. Navy ships and aircraft operating in international waters and airspace in the South China Sea (e.g., USS Cowpens and P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft); and

  8. extensive land reclamation and construction activities on five features in the South China Sea including the construction on an airstrip and docks capable of berthing military vessels.[16]

Throughout ASEAN’s years of development its major policy documents and treaties included implicitly or explicitly Southeast Asia’s maritime domain within their geographic scope. As noted above the SEANWFZ defined Southeast Asia’s geographic boundaries as including theland territory, internal waters, territorial sea, archipelagic waters, Exclusive Economic Zones, continental shelves and the seabed and the sub-soil thereof and the airspace above them.

China’s assertive and aggressive actions, combined especially with recent land reclamation activities, represent nothing less than the slow and deliberate excision of ASEAN’s maritime heart from the Southeast Asian region. China’s actions threaten to undermine ASEAN’s forty-eight year endeavor to bolster Southeast Asia’s autonomy from external intervention by altering “facts on the ground” by annexing the South China Sea and placing it under Chinese administrative and military control.

China also aims at undermining U.S. alliances and security guarantees by using civilian maritime enforcement ships and fishing fleets to conduct carefully orchestrated acts of intimidation and coercion against the Philippines and Vietnam to advance China’s physical control over the South China Sea to which the United States has yet to work out an effective response. Finally, China seeks to exploit differences among ASEAN members and draw ASEAN into East Asian exclusivist security arrangements thus undermining ASEAN’s centrality in regional security affairs.[17]

The next sections offer proposals to impose costs on China’s unilateral efforts to change the status quo in Southeast Asia’s maritime domain.


It is unlikely that any one cost imposition strategy will dissuade China from its present course of action. It is more likely that multiple overlapping cost imposition strategies implemented by various sets of actors will be more effective. This section considers two options for the United States acting in part on its own but also in conjunction with allies and security partners – an “information warfare campaign” and joint and combined exercises and deployments between Coast Guards.

First, he United States should take the lead in a campaign of “information warfare” to publicize details of Chinese unilateral destabilizing activities in the South China Seato ensure this information is put in the public domain for use by the media, scholars, security specialists, other analysts and elected officials. For example, the Defense Department should be required to include a detailed section on Chinese activities in the South China Sea in its Annual Report to Congress, Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China. The Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command should be required to report in detail on Chinese activities in the South China Sea in his annual posture statement to the respective Armed Service Committee of the House and Senate.

U.S. officials who attend ASEAN-related security meetings, such as the ARF, Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus, should use these occasions to provide detailed background briefings on Chinese activities in the South China Sea. U.S. scholars who regularly attend Track 1.5 and Track 2 regional workshops and conferences should be offered briefings on a voluntary basis.

The Departments of Defense and State should provide funds and other assistance to American-based think tanks to research and report on current Chinese activities in the South China Sea and how these are likely to impact adversely on regional security. Funding should be made available to support specialized conferences and workshops to which Southeast Asian scholars and officials are invited to attend.

The purpose of this “information warfare” campaign is to maintain unrelenting public pressure on China to be more transparent about its activities and to bring its actions into accord with regional norms such as the self-restraint clause in the DOC. Another aim of this campaign would be to counter Chinese propaganda.

Second, the United States should develop a strategy to counter Chinese activities using primarily  – but not exclusively – non-military assets. Under this new strategy the United States should avoid directly confronting People’s Liberation Army Navy warships with its own naval forces. Nor should the U.S. Navy directly confront Chinese paramilitary law enforcement agency ships and fishing craft because this would raise the risk of conflict and/or scare off some Southeast Asian states.

The United States should implement a cost imposition strategy involving joint and combined cooperation between civilian maritime agencies of likeminded external powers and the Philippines and Vietnam. This strategy should be carried out on three levels: among like-minded ASEAN dialogue partners (Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and India); multilaterally with regional allies and security partners; and bilaterally with regional states.

The United States should use its two trilateral security dialogues(U.S.-Japan-Australia and U.S.-Japan-India), at the same time promoting a quadrilateral security dialogue with India, Japan and Australia, to coordinate their approaches to ASEAN and individual Southeast Asian states. For example, in 2014 Vietnam was reported to have conducted diplomatic soundings for a trilateral security dialogue with Japan and the United States. This sort of ad hoc arrangement should be pursued.

Japan, the United States and Australia are currently providing material assistance to the Philippines to improve its capacity for maritime security, including the provision of patrol boats and training. This assistance should be stepped up and better coordinated through closer cooperation bilaterally and multilaterally. It could serve as a modelfor similar activities byother external and regional Coast Guards.

At the same time, the United States and other maritime powers, such as Japan, could conduct their own bilateral engagement activities. The United States and Vietnam already have an agreement for cooperation between their Coast Guards, but this entails training on land in the form of short courses. U.S.-Vietnam cooperation now needs to move offshore in the form of joint training exercises that gradually expand their scope from search and rescue to anti-piracy drills and maritime surveillance patrols.

Vietnam recently joined the Proliferation Security Initiative. This provides an opportunity for the United States to assist Vietnam further develop its capacity for maritime domain awareness.

The purpose of this naval interaction is to build up trust to reach the stage where both sides can agree to exchange observers on each other’s ships and patrol aircraft. Initially this exchange could take place during planned training exercises; over time it could lead to the cross posting of Coast Guard officers for longer deployments. Joint patrols should be carried out either in the EEZ’s of littoral states or on the high seas that are notionally within China’s nine-dash line.

This model could be expanded to include similar activities between the U.S. and Philippine Coast Guards, the Japanese and Philippine Coast Guards, and the Philippines and Vietnamese Coast Guards. Over time these bilateral arrangements could be expanded to trilateral or even multilateral exercises.China would be confronted with the uncertainty of directly challenging vessels containing maritime officials from the United States or its treaty allies. This could involve, for example, the deployment of U.S. and Japanese Coast Guard personnel on Coast Guard vessels operated by the Philippines and Vietnam. It could also involve a mix of Filipino and Vietnamese maritime enforcement personnel.

U.S. Navy maritime surveillance aircraft based in the Philippines under the recent Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement could operate flights with Philippine military observers. U.S. Navy maritime surveillance aircraft could be deployed over the South China Sea and land in Vietnam on a temporary basis before returning to their base in the Philippines. U.S. maritime patrol aircraft could also conduct joint maritime surveillance missions with their Filipino and Vietnamese counterparts. U.S. military personnel could fly on Philippines and Vietnamese reconnaissance planes as observers and vice versa.

Regional security analysts expect China to continue mountingannual aggressive naval displays in the South China Sea from May to August. This provides an opportunity for the U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force to organize a series of continuing maritime exercises and surveillance flights with Vietnam, the Philippines and other like-minded regional states prior to the arrival of Chinese forces each year. The details of all operations should be completely transparent to all regional states including China.

The United States and its treaty allies should conduct regular naval operations designed to assert freedom of navigation and over flight in the waters and airspace near the artificial islands currently being built by China to prevent China from making excessive claims to maritime space or intimidating regional naval forces.

The indirect cost imposition strategy provides the means for the United States to give practical expression to its declaratory policy of opposing intimidation and coercion to settle territorial disputes. An indirect strategy does not require the United States to directly confront China. This strategy puts the onus on China to decide the risk of confronting mixed formations of Coast Guard and naval vessels and aircraft involving the United States, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam and other like-minded states.

These combined maritime and air forces would operate in international waters and airspace that transverse China’s nine-dash line. Interchanging the naval and aircrews in all exercises could promote deterrence. The objective would be to maintain a continuous naval and air presence to deter China from using intimidation and coercion against Vietnam, the Philippines and other regional states by raising the risk of directly confronting the U.S. or a U.S. treaty ally The scope and intensity of these exercises could be altered in response to the tempo of Chinese naval activities.


ASEAN as an organization is unlikely to support collectively the indirect cost imposition strategy suggested above because that would lead to direct political confrontation with China. ASEAN, however, could pursue an indirect cost imposition strategy using legal, diplomatic and political means that would reinforce Southeast Asia’s autonomy and ASEAN-central role in the region’s architecture by adopting an ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia’s Maritime Domain (hereafter the Treaty).[18]

The geographical limits of Southeast Asia’s maritime domain, following SEANWFZ, should include the respective continental shelves and Exclusive Economic Zones of all ASEAN members(and future members).[19] This Treaty should have a protocol of accession inviting all ASEAN dialogue partners to sign. This treaty would be in essence a binding code of conduct for Southeast Asia’s maritime domain.

ASEAN’s dogged pursuit of promoting confidence-building measures under the DOC and a binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea with China, while an important security goal, is fundamentallyflawed for five reasons:

 First, this approach reinforces divisions in ASEAN between (a) front line claimant states the Philippines and Vietnam and the other claimant states, Brunei and Malaysia, and (b) claimant and non-claimant states, thus undermining ASEAN unity.

Second, China will not agree to a binding COC that has treaty status; this will result in a compromise COC that falls shorts of meeting the security and other concerns of Southeast Asia’s claimant states.

Third, because ASEAN and China have agreed to proceed with consultations on the drafting of a COC on the basis of consensus, China can delay these proceedings indefinitely.

Fourth, because there is no agreed road map and time limit on this process, China can continue to consolidate its presence in the South China Sea and extend its de facto control over waters that overlap with the EEZs of littoral states.

Fifth, the geographical area of ASEAN’s proposed COC cannot be defined until China either clarifies or withdraws its nine-dash line claim to the South China Sea.

Why should ASEAN adopt a Treaty Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia’s Maritime Domain? There are five reasons:

First, security of Southeast Asia’s maritime domain is indivisible for all ASEAN members, whether coastal or landlocked states.

ASEAN’s proposed COC, because it is focused solely on the South China Sea, does not cover maritime approaches to the Malacca Straits on the western seaboards of Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia, the Gulf of Thailand, the waters surrounding the Indonesian archipelago and waters to the north, east and south of the Philippines archipelago.

Second, international law, including the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea, applies equally throughout Southeast Asia’s maritime domain and not just the South China. It is applicable to all states.

Third, the treaty would incorporate the norms and legal obligations that are unlikely to be included in the COC.

Fourth, China would be put under pressure to join other dialogue partners in acceding to the treaty or bear the political costs of remaining outside its provisions.

Fifth, the treaty would reinforce ASEAN unity and Southeast Asia’s autonomy by placing ASEAN at the center of relations with outside maritime powers.The Treaty would overcome differences between claimant and non-claimant states by making all ASEAN members stakeholders, including Cambodia, Myanmarand landlocked Laos.[20] The Treaty would also reinforce ASEAN’s corporate and legal identity and enhance its ability to deal with external powers.

What should be included in a Treaty Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia’s Maritime Domain?

The Treaty’s Preamble should include pledges by all ASEAN members to bring their maritime boundaries and claims into accord with international law, including UNCLOS with particular attention to eliminating excessive baselines and clearly distinguishing islands from rocks for purposes of maritime delimitation.

The Treaty should include provision for setting up an independent panel of technical and legal experts who could be called on to assist in determining base lines and the classification of islands and rocks.

The Treaty should commit all signatories to renounce the threat of and use of force to settle their disputes over sovereignty and sovereign rights and disruption of good order at sea including safety of navigation and over flight.

The Treaty should include a pledge to resolve all outstanding disputes regarding land features in Southeast Asian waters, overlapping EEZs and delimitation of continental shelves between and among ASEAN members.

The Treaty should incorporate references to previous ASEAN treaties such as the TAC and SEANWFZ and international maritime conventions such UNCLOS, the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, and other relevant conventions.

The Treaty should include a binding commitment to resolve all disputes through peaceful mean including political-diplomatic, third party mediation or international legal arbitration.

The Treaty should include a provision for the demilitarization of islands and rocks and prohibit the deployment of specified types of weapon systems, such as land based anti-ship missiles. However, for purposes of general security, including protection against piracy and armed criminals, the Treaty should permit the stationing of Coast Guard and police personnel on occupied features.

The Treaty should contain a provision requiring all signatories to cooperate in marine scientific research, marine pollution, fisheries management, search and rescue, anti-piracy and other agreed areas.

Finally,the Treaty should make provision for setting up a mechanism to handle complaints and disputes that may arise. Such a mechanism should be included under the ASEAN Political-Security Community Council.

The proposals presented in the paper are unlikely on their own to cause China to cease its unilateral destabilizing activities in the South China Sea. They are designed to increase political pressure on China to act in conformity with international law and regional norms by taking the initiative away from China. In addition to actions that can be undertaken by the United States and other likeminded ASEAN dialogue partners in cooperation with claimant states, the above proposals are also aimed at reinforcing Southeast Asia’s autonomy.

Finally, the proposals in this paper should be combined with other cost imposition strategies proposed by other papers in this series to create a web of multiple overlapping pressures on China to accept the new status quo.


[1] “The Asean Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) Bangkok, 8 August 1967,” Malaysia was represented by its Deputy Prime Minister.

[2] “Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality Declaration,” adopted by the Foreign Ministers at the Special ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 27 November 1971;

[3] “Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia Indonesia, 24 February 1976,”

[4] “Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone,”

[5]“Declaration of ASEAN Concord II (Bali Concord II),”

[6]ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint,

[7] For an overview of ASEAN efforts to implement the DOC and reach agreement with China on a Code of Conduct see: Carlyle A. Thayer, “ASEAN, China and the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea,” TheSAIS Review of International Affairs, 33(2), Summer-Fall 2013, 75-84.

[8] “ASEAN Declaration On The South China Sea, Manila, Philippines, 22 July 1992,”

[9] “Statement by the ASEAN Foreign Ministers on the Recent Developments in the South China,” Sea18 March 1995,”

[10] “Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, November 4, 2002,” Point 10;

[11]“ASEAN-China Senior Officials Meeting on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, Kuala Lumpur, 7 December 2004” and “Terms of Reference of the ASEAN-China Joint Working Group on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea,” and

[12] Tran Truong Thuy, “Recent Developments in the South China Sea: From Declaration to Code of Conduct,” in The South China Sea: Towards a Region of Peace, Security and Cooperation, ed. Tran Truong Thuy (Hanoi: The Gioi Publishers, 2011), 104.

[13] Kyodo New Agency, “ASEAN seeks early conclusion of a maritime pact for South China Sea,” South China Morning Post, January 28, 2015.

[14] United States Department of State, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, “China: Maritime Claims in the South China Sea,” Limits in the Seas, No. 143, December 5, 2014. The media and many South China Sea specialists cite a figure of eighty percent.

[15] Carlyle A. Thayer, “The China-Philippines Face Off at Scarborough Shoal: Back to Square One?,” E-International Relations, April 26, 2012.

[16] For an analysis of the most recent satellite imagery taken by Airbus Defence and Space, see: Michelle FlorCruz, “South China Sea Land Reclamation: Satellite Images Show Chinese Progress on Made-Made Island,” International Business Times, February 17, 2015.

[17] Carlyle A. Thayer, Southeast Asia: Patterns of Security Cooperation, ASPI Strategy Report (Canberra: Australian Strategic Policy Institute, 2010), 13-30.

[18] This proposal is a modification of an idea first presented by the author to “Maritime Security: Towards a Regional Code of Conduct,” 8th CSCAP General Conference, Dangers and Dilemmas: Will the New Regional Security Architecture Help?, sponsored by the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific, Hanoi, November 21-22, 2011. This proposal was refined in two subsequent presentations: Thayer, “Positioning ASEAN between Global Powers,” Presentation to the 14th Regional Outlook Forum, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, January 5, 2012 and Thayer, “Beyond Territoriality: Managing the Maritime Commons in the South China Sea,” Paper delivered to the 28th Asia-Pacific Roundtable, International Institute of Strategic Studies, Kuala Lumpur, June 2-4, 2014.

[19] Such as Timor-Leste.

[20] Cambodia and Myanmar were the only two members of ASEAN to remain silent when maritime security/South China Sea issues were first raised at the November 2011 East Asia Summit Leaders’ Retreat. Cambodia played a spoiling role when it was ASEAN Chair in 2012 by preventing any mention of South China Sea issues in the customary joint statement; none was issued. Cambodia and Laos both demurred when ASEAN foreign ministers held a retreat in early 2015 to discuss China’s land reclamation activities in the South China Sea. On Cambodia’s role in 2012 see: Carlyle A. Thayer, “ASEAN’S Code of Conduct in the South China Sea: A Litmus Test for Community-Building?,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, 10(34), No. 4, August 20, 2012, 1-23.

(Article reprinted with the permission of the author. Carlyle A. Thayer is Emeritus Professor, The University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra and Director of Thayer Consultancy registered in Australia.

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