Showing posts tagged as "asean"

Showing posts tagged asean

4 Sep
"As the International Crisis Group documents in a fascinating new report, in empowering local officials, devolution sometimes empowers the most regressive, corrupt, and undemocratic local politicians, who use their local influence to stymie national-level courts, regulations, and politicians who often are devoted to more constitutional, liberal applications of the law."

—Joshua Kurlantzick, “Indonesia: The Downside of Decentralization”, ASEAN Beat, The Diplomat

15 Aug
'Sea grab' sparks tensions in South China Sea  |  Stars and Stripes
By Wyatt Olson
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Many people look at China and see a unified behemoth tightly controlled by the communist central leadership, so when a diplomatic fray develops, like a rash of recent confrontations in the South China Sea, the assumption is that it’s all part of a grand plan by Beijing.
But some analysts see the bureaucracy as more akin to a giant octopus, with the teeming tentacles of ministries and provinces setting their own agendas as they compete for clout and profits — as long as they maintain loyalty to the Communist Party. The philosophy, particularly among southern provinces, is the ancient adage, “Heaven is high and the emperor far away.”
FULL ARTICLE (Stars and Stripes)
Photo: Official U.S. Navy Imagery/Flickr

'Sea grab' sparks tensions in South China Sea  |  Stars and Stripes

By Wyatt Olson

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Many people look at China and see a unified behemoth tightly controlled by the communist central leadership, so when a diplomatic fray develops, like a rash of recent confrontations in the South China Sea, the assumption is that it’s all part of a grand plan by Beijing.

But some analysts see the bureaucracy as more akin to a giant octopus, with the teeming tentacles of ministries and provinces setting their own agendas as they compete for clout and profits — as long as they maintain loyalty to the Communist Party. The philosophy, particularly among southern provinces, is the ancient adage, “Heaven is high and the emperor far away.”

FULL ARTICLE (Stars and Stripes)

Photo: Official U.S. Navy Imagery/Flickr

3 Aug
Analysis - China unveils oil offensive in South China Sea squabble  |  Swissinfo.ch
By Randy Fabi and Chen Aizhu / REUTERS
SINGAPORE/BEIJING - First came the diplomatic offensive, then the flexing of military muscle.
Now, China is opening a third front to assert its claims in the South China Sea - moving ahead with its first major tender of oil and gas blocks in disputed parts of its waters.
FULL ARTICLE (Swissinfo.ch)
Photo: U.S. Navy Photo/Flickr

Analysis - China unveils oil offensive in South China Sea squabble  |  Swissinfo.ch

By Randy Fabi and Chen Aizhu / REUTERS

SINGAPORE/BEIJING - First came the diplomatic offensive, then the flexing of military muscle.

Now, China is opening a third front to assert its claims in the South China Sea - moving ahead with its first major tender of oil and gas blocks in disputed parts of its waters.

FULL ARTICLE (Swissinfo.ch)

Photo: U.S. Navy Photo/Flickr

1 Aug
Analysis - ASEAN path to economic union muddied by South China Sea  |  Swissinfo.ch
JAKARTA (Reuters) - Discord in Southeast Asia over how to deal with Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea comes as the region struggles to overcome competing national interests and form a European Union-style economic community by 2015.
FULL ARTICLE (Swissinfo.ch)
Photo: Gunawan Kartapranata/Wikimedia Commons

Analysis - ASEAN path to economic union muddied by South China Sea  |  Swissinfo.ch

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Discord in Southeast Asia over how to deal with Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea comes as the region struggles to overcome competing national interests and form a European Union-style economic community by 2015.

FULL ARTICLE (Swissinfo.ch)

Photo: Gunawan Kartapranata/Wikimedia Commons

30 Jul
High Stakes in the South China Sea  |  The Diplomat
by Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt
Coverage of the South China Sea territorial dispute has tended to paint the story as that of a giant China flexing its muscle over a handful of smaller Southeast Asian states. But while China’s increasingly assertive behavior shows its willingness to exploit the weaknesses of other claimants, the picture is not as simple as is it is often portrayed. Vietnam and the Philippines are pushing back against China, and many countries are stoking tensions in the sea. Together, their actions leave plenty of room for open conflict to break out.
FULL ARTICLE (The Diplomat)
Photo: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David Mercil/Wikimedia Commons

High Stakes in the South China Sea  |  The Diplomat

by Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt

Coverage of the South China Sea territorial dispute has tended to paint the story as that of a giant China flexing its muscle over a handful of smaller Southeast Asian states. But while China’s increasingly assertive behavior shows its willingness to exploit the weaknesses of other claimants, the picture is not as simple as is it is often portrayed. Vietnam and the Philippines are pushing back against China, and many countries are stoking tensions in the sea. Together, their actions leave plenty of room for open conflict to break out.

FULL ARTICLE (The Diplomat)

Photo: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David Mercil/Wikimedia Commons

26 Jul
Marking time on the Thai-Cambodian border conflict
by Jim Della-Giacoma
On 18 July 2011, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Thailand and Cambodia to “immediately withdraw their military personnel” in the provisional demilitarised zone (PDZ) it created around the Preah Vihear temple, scene of a long-festering territorial dispute between the two countries. Last week, a year to the day of that order, the two sides with some pomp and ceremony replaced the soldiers on these frontlines with police and paramilitary border guards. While the word “immediate” seems to have its own meaning in this part of the world, it is good news. This belated bilateral agreement is starting to defer to the court’s decision last year and it will turn down the temperature of this simmering conflict. It might also allow for the deployment of a neutral ASEAN observer force; Indonesian soldiers have been on stand-by to fulfil this role for over a year now – their deployment would mark a new and positive chapter in proactive ASEAN peacemaking.
Fighting around the World Heritage listed Preah Vihear and two other nearby border temples flared in February and April 2011. In a clash unusual for the region, two treaty allies and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) briefly went to war, exchanging tens of thousands of artillery rounds, including cluster munitions. The fighting in 2011 killed an estimated 28 people, maimed many others, and led to the temporary displacement of tens of thousands.
As we analysed in our December 2011 report Waging Peace: ASEAN and the Thai-Cambodian Border Conflict, the friction that led to the fighting fuelled by Thai domestic politics, much of the heat went out of this conflict after the change of government in Bangkok in July that year. But despite this political shift, the underlying conflict was not resolved and the situation on the border did not immediately change. It remained over-militarised and often unnecessarily tense. Earlier this month there were reports, later denied by the Thais, of Cambodian troops shooting at a circling Thai airliner thinking it was a surveillance drone. The border dispute can never be solved by force but only through painstaking talks and surveys that are needed for its final demarcation. Having soldiers too close to each other also impedes a long-term grand plan of making all of ASEAN’s border zones of economic “connectivity” rather than the frontlines as many of them were during the Cold War.
The withdrawal announcement came after a meeting on 13 July between Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra in Siem Reap. Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul then gave more details after a 16 July meeting that the Royal Thai Army also planned to redeploy troops from the area. His announcement followed talks between senior Thai security officials to discuss implementation of the ICJ order and the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the Indonesian Observers Team (IOT). This needed to be done before the 54-year-old case goes back to the ICJ for more oral arguments on 15 – 19 April 2013 related to the ongoing Cambodian request to have the court once and for all define the borderline around the temple. On 18 July, Cambodia Defence Minister Tea Banh made it official in a speech at the temple, where 485 Cambodian soldiers drove off, to be replaced with 255 policemen and 100 temple guards. The two sides say they are planning to jointly demine the PDZ.
In a landmark passage of its July 2011 judgement – it must not be forgotten – the ICJ also ordered the parties to allow ASEAN appointed observers from Indonesia to have access to the disputed area, effectively to be its eyes and ears. The regional organisation had earlier set its own precedent by agreeing to such a monitoring mission in February after the initial clashes around Preah Vihear. Foreign Minister Surapong said the 16 July meeting resolved that the foreign affairs and defence ministries would jointly consider the rules for the Indonesians before submitting it to cabinet. It would be forwarded to parliament for approval in accordance with Article 190 Paragraph 2 of the Constitution. As observed inWaging Peace, the turbulent domestic politics in Thailand and the cumbersome (and even questionable) constitutional process in that country have always been an obstacle. A Cambodia official told Crisis Group this week it is ready to unilaterally receive Indonesian observers, after having approved them in May last year. Indeed, it has a lonely officialwaiting and a post on the border ready to receive them replete with ASEAN and Indonesian flags flying.
While this conflict may be heading in the right direction, it is doing so slowly. Beyond questions of timing, the border dispute and the deployment of observers is another litmus test for the Yingluck administration and its relationship with the military. The agreement is a qualified triumph as once again the question is being asked: who is in charge? Thai military Supreme Commander General Thanasak Patimapakorn told reporters on 20 July that observers were no longer needed. There appears to be some political demining still to be completed on the Thai side. Just like in 2011, the supreme commander, whose office oversees border affairs, seems to be out of step with the civilian government. Speaking as if he were the foreign minister he said: “Indonesia considers that if the two countries can talk, they will have no need to come in, and this is also the two nations’ stance”.
But is there still a need for the Indonesians? Crisis Group believes observers are still important to verify any agreement and prevent future turmoil. They also seem to still be on the trilateral agenda. On 19 July, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa met inPhnom Penh with his veteran Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong to try and unravel another regional conflict in theSouth China Sea. A senior Indonesian official told Crisis Group that the ministers found time to discuss the plan to send observers to the Thai-Cambodian border, which was still being actively considered as they waited for the Thais to approve the TOR. In the meantime, the agreement to redeploy troops was a welcome development for South East Asia, with observers, anyway, just being a means to an end, which was peace.
This is coded language for all the parties not to expect too much, too soon. For foreigners living in Thailand this might be another illustration of “Thai time”, although Thais themselves would probably disagree that they have a punctuality problem. Indonesia, home to the culture of jam karet or rubber time, appears to be relaxed with this modest pace of progress. As Natalegawa becomes something of an expert on regional shuttle diplomacy, he knows all too well that even when ASEAN is “aggressively waging peace” it will do so at its own measured tempo.
Resolving Conflict in South East Asia

Marking time on the Thai-Cambodian border conflict

On 18 July 2011, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Thailand and Cambodia to “immediately withdraw their military personnel” in the provisional demilitarised zone (PDZ) it created around the Preah Vihear temple, scene of a long-festering territorial dispute between the two countries. Last week, a year to the day of that order, the two sides with some pomp and ceremony replaced the soldiers on these frontlines with police and paramilitary border guards. While the word “immediate” seems to have its own meaning in this part of the world, it is good news. This belated bilateral agreement is starting to defer to the court’s decision last year and it will turn down the temperature of this simmering conflict. It might also allow for the deployment of a neutral ASEAN observer force; Indonesian soldiers have been on stand-by to fulfil this role for over a year now – their deployment would mark a new and positive chapter in proactive ASEAN peacemaking.

Fighting around the World Heritage listed Preah Vihear and two other nearby border temples flared in February and April 2011. In a clash unusual for the region, two treaty allies and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) briefly went to war, exchanging tens of thousands of artillery rounds, including cluster munitions. The fighting in 2011 killed an estimated 28 people, maimed many others, and led to the temporary displacement of tens of thousands.

As we analysed in our December 2011 report Waging Peace: ASEAN and the Thai-Cambodian Border Conflict, the friction that led to the fighting fuelled by Thai domestic politics, much of the heat went out of this conflict after the change of government in Bangkok in July that year. But despite this political shift, the underlying conflict was not resolved and the situation on the border did not immediately change. It remained over-militarised and often unnecessarily tense. Earlier this month there were reports, later denied by the Thais, of Cambodian troops shooting at a circling Thai airliner thinking it was a surveillance drone. The border dispute can never be solved by force but only through painstaking talks and surveys that are needed for its final demarcation. Having soldiers too close to each other also impedes a long-term grand plan of making all of ASEAN’s border zones of economic “connectivity” rather than the frontlines as many of them were during the Cold War.

The withdrawal announcement came after a meeting on 13 July between Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra in Siem Reap. Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul then gave more details after a 16 July meeting that the Royal Thai Army also planned to redeploy troops from the area. His announcement followed talks between senior Thai security officials to discuss implementation of the ICJ order and the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the Indonesian Observers Team (IOT). This needed to be done before the 54-year-old case goes back to the ICJ for more oral arguments on 15 – 19 April 2013 related to the ongoing Cambodian request to have the court once and for all define the borderline around the temple. On 18 July, Cambodia Defence Minister Tea Banh made it official in a speech at the temple, where 485 Cambodian soldiers drove off, to be replaced with 255 policemen and 100 temple guards. The two sides say they are planning to jointly demine the PDZ.

In a landmark passage of its July 2011 judgement – it must not be forgotten – the ICJ also ordered the parties to allow ASEAN appointed observers from Indonesia to have access to the disputed area, effectively to be its eyes and ears. The regional organisation had earlier set its own precedent by agreeing to such a monitoring mission in February after the initial clashes around Preah Vihear. Foreign Minister Surapong said the 16 July meeting resolved that the foreign affairs and defence ministries would jointly consider the rules for the Indonesians before submitting it to cabinet. It would be forwarded to parliament for approval in accordance with Article 190 Paragraph 2 of the Constitution. As observed inWaging Peace, the turbulent domestic politics in Thailand and the cumbersome (and even questionable) constitutional process in that country have always been an obstacle. A Cambodia official told Crisis Group this week it is ready to unilaterally receive Indonesian observers, after having approved them in May last year. Indeed, it has a lonely officialwaiting and a post on the border ready to receive them replete with ASEAN and Indonesian flags flying.

While this conflict may be heading in the right direction, it is doing so slowly. Beyond questions of timing, the border dispute and the deployment of observers is another litmus test for the Yingluck administration and its relationship with the military. The agreement is a qualified triumph as once again the question is being asked: who is in charge? Thai military Supreme Commander General Thanasak Patimapakorn told reporters on 20 July that observers were no longer needed. There appears to be some political demining still to be completed on the Thai side. Just like in 2011, the supreme commander, whose office oversees border affairs, seems to be out of step with the civilian government. Speaking as if he were the foreign minister he said: “Indonesia considers that if the two countries can talk, they will have no need to come in, and this is also the two nations’ stance”.

But is there still a need for the Indonesians? Crisis Group believes observers are still important to verify any agreement and prevent future turmoil. They also seem to still be on the trilateral agenda. On 19 July, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa met inPhnom Penh with his veteran Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong to try and unravel another regional conflict in theSouth China Sea. A senior Indonesian official told Crisis Group that the ministers found time to discuss the plan to send observers to the Thai-Cambodian border, which was still being actively considered as they waited for the Thais to approve the TOR. In the meantime, the agreement to redeploy troops was a welcome development for South East Asia, with observers, anyway, just being a means to an end, which was peace.

This is coded language for all the parties not to expect too much, too soon. For foreigners living in Thailand this might be another illustration of “Thai time”, although Thais themselves would probably disagree that they have a punctuality problem. Indonesia, home to the culture of jam karet or rubber time, appears to be relaxed with this modest pace of progress. As Natalegawa becomes something of an expert on regional shuttle diplomacy, he knows all too well that even when ASEAN is “aggressively waging peace” it will do so at its own measured tempo.

Resolving Conflict in South East Asia

25 Jul
China takes the gloves off | CNN GPS
By Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt
As tensions rise in the South China Sea, the gloves are coming off in Beijing. When it comes to exploiting the weaknesses of its rivals in Southeast Asia – smaller nations also laying claim to the South China Sea – China doesn’t pull any punches.
Until recently, it followed a line of “reactive assertiveness” – responding forcefully to perceived provocations in this disputed body of water. Now, there are signs that China has shed the “reactive” part of its approach.
FULL ARTICLE (CNN GPS)
Photo: Daderot/ Flickr

China takes the gloves off | CNN GPS

By Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt

As tensions rise in the South China Sea, the gloves are coming off in Beijing. When it comes to exploiting the weaknesses of its rivals in Southeast Asia – smaller nations also laying claim to the South China Sea – China doesn’t pull any punches.

Until recently, it followed a line of “reactive assertiveness” – responding forcefully to perceived provocations in this disputed body of water. Now, there are signs that China has shed the “reactive” part of its approach.

FULL ARTICLE (CNN GPS)

Photo: Daderot/ Flickr

ICG Warns of Regional War | Bangkok Post
Tensions over competing claims in the South China Sea could escalate into conflict, with an arms build-up among rival nations raising the temperature, an international think tank warned Tuesday.
Prospects of solving the disputes “seem to be diminishing” after a recent failure by the 10-nation ASEAN grouping to hammer out a “code of conduct” that would govern actions in the sea, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said.
FULL ARTICLE (Bangkok Times)
Photo: Gunawan Kartapranata/ Wikimedia Commons

ICG Warns of Regional War | Bangkok Post

Tensions over competing claims in the South China Sea could escalate into conflict, with an arms build-up among rival nations raising the temperature, an international think tank warned Tuesday.

Prospects of solving the disputes “seem to be diminishing” after a recent failure by the 10-nation ASEAN grouping to hammer out a “code of conduct” that would govern actions in the sea, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said.

FULL ARTICLE (Bangkok Times)

Photo: Gunawan Kartapranata/ Wikimedia Commons

South China Sea Dispute at ‘Impasse’, Says Report | Voice of America
An international research organization says the South China Sea territorial dispute has reached an impasse and the prospects of finding a resolution are diminishing.
The International Crisis Group said in a report Tuesday the likelihood of a major conflict between China and Southeast Asian rival claimants remains low. But it warned “all of the trends are in the wrong direction.”
FULL ARTICLE (VOA)
Photo: Jacob.jose/ Wikimedia Commons

South China Sea Dispute at ‘Impasse’, Says Report | Voice of America

An international research organization says the South China Sea territorial dispute has reached an impasse and the prospects of finding a resolution are diminishing.

The International Crisis Group said in a report Tuesday the likelihood of a major conflict between China and Southeast Asian rival claimants remains low. But it warned “all of the trends are in the wrong direction.”

FULL ARTICLE (VOA)

Photo: Jacob.jose/ Wikimedia Commons

24 Jul
Armed conflict possible in South China Sea: ICG  |  Agence France Presse
By Jason Gutierrez
MANILA, Philippines–Tensions over competing claims in the South China Sea could escalate into conflict, with an arms build-up among rival nations raising the temperature, an international think tank warned Tuesday.
FULL ARTICLE (AFP)
Photo: Official U.S. Navy Imagery/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Ryan Smith/Flickr

Armed conflict possible in South China Sea: ICG  |  Agence France Presse

By Jason Gutierrez

MANILA, Philippines–Tensions over competing claims in the South China Sea could escalate into conflict, with an arms build-up among rival nations raising the temperature, an international think tank warned Tuesday.

FULL ARTICLE (AFP)

Photo: Official U.S. Navy Imagery/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Ryan Smith/Flickr