Foreign ministers and senior officials are gathering in Bali for the ASEAN Regional Forum, with the main security summit at the end of the week. While issues such as North Korea, the Thai-Cambodia border dispute and Myanmar may surface, most eyes will be on how delegates navigate the choppy diplomatic waters of the South China Sea.
The strategic rivalry between the United States and China also forms a backdrop to the security dialogue, with the United States maintaining close ties with Vietnam and the Philippines, the two ASEAN countries that have clashed with China in recent incidents. Who blinks first will be read, rightly or wrongly, as a sign of who has the upper hand in the balance of power in Asia.
“Differences exist and dialogue should not be stifled. But it is a conversation best guided by calm, context and norms,” said Simon Tay, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.
“If not, a shouting or potentially shooting contest may result.”
Read the full story here [SCMP/AFP, 19 July 2011]