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Singapore's ASEAN tenure marked by crises and disputes

2018-11-17 08:01:46       source:Asia Times

November 15, 2018

Mark Valencia, an adjunct senior scholar at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies in Haikou, China, takes a dimmer view: “On Singapore’s watch, the South China Sea became an increasing focus of rivalry for dominance between China and the US,” he told Asia Times, adding that the grouping has become less central to regional security as a result.

“Asean was and is unable to mitigate this struggle and its deleterious effect on Asean unity and centrality in regional security,” he said. “This is not the fault or lack of effort on the part of [Foreign Minister] Balakrishnan and Singapore. Asean is caught up in a seminal great power contest and there is little that it can do to extricate itself or mitigate its effects.”

Valencia spoke favorably of a recent Asean agreement to introduce guidelines for managing unexpected encounters between military aircraft in the maritime region, but lamented that the guidelines would do little to prevent “intentional unfriendly encounters as we have seen in the continuing incidents between China and the US.”

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