This video shows you that Does ASEAN Want the US Navy in the South China Sea?
In recent months it has become clear that the lull in Washington’s confrontation with China in the South China Sea is over. Following the election of President Donald Trump, concern over Beijing’s expanding naval presence took a back seat to preoccupation with cooperation on North Korea. But the current US administration has once again stepped up rhetoric and naval operations, sending a message to China: your neighbors in the region are smaller than you, but they are not alone.
America’s continued presence in the waters of Southeast Asia is predicated, in part, on Washington’s insistence that they are needed, and wanted, to help ensure stability. But the question of whether member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) support US presence in the South China Sea may not have a black and white answer.
Maritime policy analysts Mark Valencia writes in The Jakarta Post that the answer depends on which Asean members you ask, and what the US Navy is up to at any given moment.
For one, the support from even America’s closest ally in the block, Singapore, may not be without condition, says Valencia, who is currently a scholar with the China-based National Institute for SCS Studies:
“In an assessment of the United States’ role in Southeast Asian security [Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong] asserted that, ‘Most ASEAN members support and welcome the US stance.’ Since Singapore is this year’s ASEAN Chair, Lee’s statement may hold special weight. But if taken out of context, his words may be misinterpreted.
“Lee’s statement was a general assessment of the US role as a ‘Pacific power’ — not specifically its behavior in the SCS. Indeed, he was referring to US Defense Secretary James Mattis’ affirmation at the 2017 Shangri-La Dialogue that Southeast Asia was a priority area and that the US was committed ‘to the region’s security and prosperity.’”
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