accessed October 25, 2017
-- Richard Heydarian, "China's Regional Isolation" Al Jazeera November 23, 2015
-- "China Scores Diplomatic Coup in Sea Row" Agence France-Presse August 7, 2017
日期：20171223 本文字數：1100 目標字數:1100
●其他東協國家：一七年八月初，東盟外長會議達成「南海行為準則」架構。前述R. Heydarian認為：「這是中國外交大勝利。」英國南海專家B. Hayton表示：比起○二年的決議，這架構的文字有利中國甚多。對東協，北京的確下功夫。美國盟友泰國向它買潛艇。它幫印尼造高鐵。它也幫馬來西亞造高鐵，花四十億元美金承建皇京港。
★China's regional isolation
http://www.aljazeera.com/…/china-regional-isolation-1511221…accessed Dec. 20, 2017
ASEAN summit saw member countries pushing for a legally binding 'code of conduct' in the South China Sea as a way to constraint China's territorial assertiveness in the area, writes Heydarian [AP]
On the surface, China looks nothing short of an Asian juggernaut. It boasts Asia's biggest economy, having eclipsed Japan in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, and is poised to become the world's biggest in the near future.
It is already the world's largest trading power, having overtaken the United States in 2013. And within a relatively short period, China has emerged as a leading investor, particularly in the realm of infrastructure development, across the global south and beyond.
Unlike Japan, China is a comprehensive power, which isn't bedevilled by constitutional restrictions on the development of its offensive military capabilities. Flushed with cash and ambition, China has rapidly caught up with leading military powers, now boasting two operational fifth-generation jet fighters, an aircraft carrier, and sophisticated asymmetrical area-denial/anti-access (A2/AD) capabilities.
ASEAN summit leaders meet in Kuala Lumpur
No wonder then, that leading naval experts such as James Holmes have described China as "a near-peer [military] competitor vis-a-vis the United States" in East Asia.
And yet, one can't escape the impression that China is suffering increasing diplomatic isolation due to its aggressive manoeuvres across contested waters such as the South China Sea.
Not to mention that China's recent economic troubles, ranging from massive stock market crashes to declining manufacturing exports, have chipped away at its long-held image as a beacon of capitalist success.
Conscious of growing worries over China's economic health, Chinese President Xi Jinping, in his keynote speech during the APEC summit, was adamant that his country's economy is strong, resilient, and dynamic.
All of a sudden, China has been on the diplomatic back foot, while the US and its allies have been confidently pushing for greater regional unity to ensure freedom of navigation and maritime security in the Asia-Pacific region.
The elephant in the room
China's weakened regional position was evident during the recently concluded Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summits.
Without a doubt, China is expected to stand its ground and further consolidate its territorial claims in adjacent waters. But it is also clear that Beijing is no longer seen as a fully benign, peacefully rising power by many of its neighbours.
Confronting criticism over its territorial assertiveness in adjacent waters, China desperately sought to eliminate any multilateral discussion of the South China Sea disputes.
Fearful that the Philippines, this year's APEC host and China's rival claimant state, would use the event to diplomatically confront Beijing, Xi refused to confirm his participation until the 11th hour, and making it conditional on the host's agreement to brush aside the maritime disputes during the APEC summit.
Before Xi's highly anticipated visit, China dispatched Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Manila to warn the Philippines against embarrassing his boss. In effect, Beijing tried to influence the summit's agenda so that no dark shadow would be cast on its image.
To secure Xi's participation, and to bolster its credentials as a magnanimous host, Manila promised not to mention the disputes in the main agenda of APEC, and extended a warm welcome to the Chinese leader.
After all, Xi's visit would mark his first to the Southeast Asian country, potentially paving the way for the resuscitation of long-frozen high-level contacts between the two countries. As the leader of the second biggest economy in the Asia-Pacific region, Xi's presence was considered as essential to a successful APEC summit.
Though China managed to block any discussion of the disputes in the APEC's main statements, the Philippines did bring the issue to the fore in its bilateral engagements on the sidelines of the summit.
Shortly after landing in Manila, US President Barack Obama made a highly symbolic visit to the Philippines' flagship naval vessel BRP Gregorio del Pilar. He reiterated the United States' "ironclad commitment" to its alliance with the Philippines, pledging to donate two vessels and an increase in overall maritime security assistance to the country.
Both countries emphasised the centrality of freedom of navigation to regional security. For the US and its allies, China's massive reclamation activities and increased military presence across the South China Sea poses threats to freedom of navigation in one of the world's most important sea lines of communications.
Vietnam, another maritime rival of China, also signed a strategic partnership agreement with the Philippines, which deepens diplomatic, legal, and naval cooperation between the two Southeast Asian countries against China. The new agreement was meant to signal to Beijing that its rivals in the South China Sea were forming a counter-alliance.
The Philippines signed a new military deal with Japan as well, another regional power that has been perturbed by China's maritime assertiveness. Under the latest deal, the Philippines is expected to benefit from greater military aid from and more regular joint naval exercises with Tokyo.
Other regional powers such as Australia, South Korea and even Russia, offered greater military assistance to the Philippines, which has been caught in a precarious maritime dispute with China.
Earlier this month, an anxious China went so far as sabotaging a high-level talk among regional defence ministers, the ASEAN Defence Minister Meeting-Plus, by refusing to sign up to a joint statement that would have covered the South China Sea disputes.
Yet, to China's dismay, the recently concluded ASEAN summit saw Southeast Asian foreign ministers pushing for a legally binding "code of conduct" in the South China Sea as a way to constraint China's territorial assertiveness in the area.
Without a doubt, China is expected to stand its ground and further consolidate its territorial claims in adjacent waters. But it is also clear that Beijing is no longer seen as a fully benign, peacefully rising power by many of its neighbours, who have increasingly gravitated towards the US as the supposed guarantor of regional security in Asia. (CPL： Ironically, the trend has overturned by December 2017)
Richard Javad Heydarian is a specialist in Asian geopolitical/economic affairs and author of Asia's New Battlefield: US, China, and the Struggle for Western Pacific.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA
★China scores diplomatic coup in sea row
Agence France-Presse / 07:07 AM August 07, 2017
http://globalnation.inquirer.net/…/china-scores-diplomatic-… accessed December 22, 2017
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks during a press conference on the sidelines of the 50th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) regional security forum in Manila on August 6, 2017. AFP
China on Sunday scored a diplomatic coup in its campaign to weaken regional resistance against its sweeping claims to the South China Sea when Southeast Asian nations issued a diluted statement on the dispute and agreed to Beijing’s terms on talks.
After two days of tense meetings on the dispute in the Philippine capital, foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) issued a joint communique that diplomats involved said was carefully worded to avoid angering China.
The release of the statement came shortly after the ministers met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and agreed on a framework for conducting negotiations on the decades-long row that included key clauses advocated by China.
“This is an important outcome of our joint effort,” Wang told reporters as he celebrated the agreement.
China claims nearly all of the strategically vital sea, through which $5 trillion in annual shipping trade passes and is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits.
Its sweeping claims overlap with those of Asean members Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as Taiwan.
China has dramatically expanded its presence in the contested areas in recent years by building giant artificial islands that could be used as military bases, raising concerns it will eventually establish de facto control over the waters.
Duterte thanks China again for its help during 5-month Marawi siege
In what two diplomats involved said was another victory for Beijing on Sunday, Asean members declined to say in their joint statement that the hoped-for code of conduct with China be “legally binding”.
Vietnam, the most determined critic of China on the issue, had insisted during two days of negotiations that Asean insist the code be legally binding, arguing otherwise it would be meaningless.
The Asean ministers failed to release the joint statement as expected after meeting on Saturday because of their differences on the sea issue, with Vietnam pushing for tougher language and Cambodia lobbying hard for China.
“Vietnam is adamant, and China is effectively using Cambodia to champion its interests,” one diplomat told AFP on Sunday as negotiations extended into overtime.
Tensions over the sea have long vexed Asean, which operates on a consensus basis but has had to balance the interests of rival claimants and those more aligned to China.
Critics of China have accused it of trying to divide Asean with strong-armed tactics and checkbook diplomacy, enticing smaller countries in the bloc such as Cambodia and Laos to support it.
The Philippines, under previous president Benigno Aquino, had been one of the most vocal critics of China and filed a case before a UN-backed tribunal.
The tribunal last year ruled China’s sweeping claims to the sea had no legal basis.
But China, despite being a signatory to the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea, ignored the ruling.
The Philippines, under new President Rodrigo Duterte, decided to play down the verdict in favour of pursuing warmer ties with Beijing. This in turn led to offers of billions of dollars in investments or aid from China.
“It’s clear that China’s pressure on individual Asean governments has paid off,” Bill Hayton, a South China Sea expert and associate fellow with the Asia Program at Chatham House in London, told AFP.
Hayton and other analysts said the agreement on a framework for talks on Sunday came 15 years after a similar document was signed committing the parties to begin negotiations.
The 2002 document was more strongly worded against China.
China used those 15 years to cement its claims, while continuing to get Asean to issue ever-weaker statements of opposition, according to the analysts.
“It would appear China has never lost in terms of seeing the language of Asean forum statements being toned down,” Ei Sun Oh, adjunct senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, told AFP.
Philippine academic and security analyst Richard Heydarian expressed stronger sentiments as he summarized Sunday’s developments: “Overall it’s a slam dunk diplomatic victory for China”. CBB