Don't expect too much from ASEAN in East Sea issues: Australian scholar

ASEAN is divided in the East Sea issue and Vietnam needs to avoid controversy when it takes over the chairmanship 2020.

Don't expect too much from ASEAN in East Sea issues: Australian scholar

Dr. Leszek Buszynski, Honorable Professor, Strategic and Defense Studies Center, Australian National University. 

Dr. Leszek Buszynski, Honorable Professor, Strategic and Defense Studies Center, Australian National University has talked about the role of ASEAN in settling the East Sea (internationally known as the South China Sea) issue, and the role of the international community in this thorny issue.

Vietnam should not expect too much from ASEAN because the bloc is divided in the East Sea issue as some other countries like Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia do not think the East Sea is important for ASEAN and regard it as a bilateral issue, Dr. Leszek Buszynski said. 

There are countries, including the aforementioned ones, especially Cambodia having a close relationship with China. They have different views and don’t consider the issues as seriously as Vietnam does.

In fact, it’s really difficult to make all the 10 members united in a common concern and it depends on how China would react because China has been pushing Vietnam in Tu Chinh (Vanguard Bank) and surrounding areas.

Assuming the ASEAN Chairmanship 2020, Vietnam needs to avoid controversy in ASEAN and should insert East Sea issues in the meetings next year to get support from member states. All Vietnam can do is to obtain in the bloc’s meetings a special concern about the sea which expresses the bloc’s common view.

Making things public

Dr. Leszek Buszynski was aware of the importance of publicizing the East Sea issue internationally very early. He raised this issue when he first came to Vietnam and met with senior officials at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV) in 1993.

“I told them that you have to raise the situation on international media and always talk about it,” the professor stressed.

Attending the 11th East Sea International Conference in Hanoi on November 6-7, Dr. Leszek Buszynski once again raised the issue and supported Vietnam’s stance on the East Sea.

 

Vietnam has been doing this but the country can do more, particularly in cooperating with a number of European countries, for example France, Germany and the UK – the countries have recently voiced concerns about the East Sea issues, and in strengthening defense ties with Japan, the US, India, Australia, among others, he noted.

China fears for bad reputation

The professor emphasized that Vietnam needs to seek external support, including from Japan, the US, and Australia when being asked about what Vietnam should do to prevent the situation from getting worse.

What Vietnam should do is to strongly protest China’s violations and made the illegal activities public internationally, he added.

Back to 2014 when China moved its oil rig into Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone in the East Sea, Beijing had to compel the withdrawal before the deadline as Hanoi won international support thanks to its strong reaction.

It’s obvious that Vietnam’s strong and public reaction helped. In comparison with regional claimants, Malaysia doesn’t do this because of their own reasons and the Philippines doesn’t do this since it has a complicated internal situation.

Being one of the world’s biggest powers, China needs to focus on economic development and at the post of a big country, China doesn’t want bad reputation and naturally it’s afraid of bad image. Hanoitimes

Linh Pham

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Foreign experts criticise China’s actions in East Sea

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