|Various Claims on South China Sea|
It’s quite natural that, a giant neighbour in the vicinity can make others uncomfortable. It will be sorer if the relation carries bitter memories from the past and the conflicts of present. In such a situation if someone is demanding something extraordinary then it will only make the problem worse. This is what happened when China added the entire South China Sea to its core interest list. Panic suddenly spread across the capitals of South Chinese littoral states. The problems – fishing boat incident - with Japan in Senkaku/Diaoyu and with Vietnam and the Philippines in Paracels and the Spratlys group only added fuels to it.
Now to resolve these issues, the interested parties have to sit around the table and talk. Here comes the problem, China may be ready to speak with the nations individually in which case it holds enormous bargaining power not only in size but also in economic and military might but the small nations will not be agreeable to this idea as they know their weakness. They may be more comfortable with to talk with China in a multilateral framework like ASEAN, when as a combined group they have considerable power. But China will not be comfortable with the idea, as it will reduce its bargaining power and there is a possibility to bring the US to the equations. So other than rhetoric and some meetings here and there any speedy resolution is not in the horizon.
|Vietnamese hold a rare protest in Hanoi|
Each aggressive move by China will be watched all over the world, these actions will not help her in creating a smooth international profile. So it will be better for China to sit with South East Asian nations and try to solve the problems peacefully under UN conventions on High Seas or according to any regional frameworks. They can also extract a guarantee from the littoral states for a safe passage of all supplies to China through Malacca Straits on all circumstances. Under any circumstances sea lanes should be open to international commercial navigation.
If China is able to work out the problems in South China Sea with littoral nations peacefully, it will not only assist in creating a peaceful SE Asia but will certainly raise China’s image. In that scenario more and more assignments will wait for her – Middle East crisis, African problems…
Photo Courtesy: Voice of America