"On March 18, China and ASEAN gathered in Singapore to pursue consultations on a Code of Conduct (COC) for the South China Sea, alongside talks on the implementation of the Declaration of Conduct (DOC). The gathering came at a time of rising preoccupation over a perceived creeping assertiveness by China in pursuing its maritime claims. Just one week before, Manila and Beijing experienced another diplomatic row, after Chinese Coast Guard vessels barred the resupply of Philippine marines based in the Spratly Islands.
In broader terms, several high-profile developments have hinted that China is becoming more inclined to consider the threat and use of force as its preferred vehicle for influence in the South China Sea. China’s considerable maritime build-up has been accompanied by the merging of its maritime agencies into a unified Coast Guard unit, the publication of maps with a 10-dash line covering Chinese claims in the South China Sea, and even the announcement of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, covering the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. All have contributed to turning the South China Sea into “Asia’s cauldron,” as one renowned expert titled his last book. A widely circulated photograph picturing Chinese sailors forming the slogan “The Chinese dream, the dream of a strong military” on the deck of the Liaoning did nothing to help mitigate nervousness over Chinese aims and strategy in the region..."
(Crédit photo : Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs)