Jan. 6, 2000: Six Chinese fishing vessels reportedly
carrying coral, a protected species, are sighted off Scarborough
Shoal (Huangyan Island) by a Philippine naval vessel.
Jan. 8-10, 2000: A symposium marking the 50th
anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between
China and Vietnam is held in Nanning, China.
Jan. 9-15, 2000: A delegation of the People's
Liberation Army, led by Lt. Gen. Zhang Wentai, political commissar
of the Jinan Military Region, pays a friendship visit to
Jan. 12, 2000: The Vietnamese Institute of
International Relations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hold a
seminar in Hanoi on fifty years of Vietnamese-Chinese
Jan. 14, 2000: The Philippines files a diplomatic
protest to China over alleged illegal fishing and collecting of
coral by Chinese fishing boats.
Jan. 14-21, 2000: A Vietnam Communist Party delegation
led by Le Van Dy, member of the Central Committee and Secretary of
the Ba Ria-Vung Tau provincial party committee, visits
Jan. 17, 2000: A delegation of Vietnam's Supreme
People's Procuracy, led by its head Ha Manh Tri, visits
Jan. 17, 2000: Vietnamese Ambassador to China, Bui
Hong Phuc, hosts a reception to mark the 50th anniversary of the
establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Vietnam.
Vice Premier Qian Qichen and Vice Foreign Minister Yang Wenchang
Jan. 18, 2000: Vietnamese and Chinese leaders exchange
messages on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic
relations; several receptions are held in both capitals to
commemorate the occasion.
Jan. 18, 2000: A special cargo and passenger transport
service inaugurated between Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and
Lang Son, Quang Ninh and Cao Bang provinces in Vietnam.
Jan. 23, 2000: A Philippines aircraft on maritime
patrol reports citing four Chinese fishing vessels and ten sampans
near Scarborough Shoal.
Jan. 24, 2000: Do Muoi, adviser to the VCP Central
Committee, receives in Hanoi Chinese Ambassador to Vietnam Li
Jiazhong, who paid a new year's courtesy call.
Jan. 24, 2000: Deputy Foreign Minister Vu Khoan holds
discussions in Beijing with Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan on
economic and commercial cooperation and measures to accelerate
negotiations on the delineation of the Gulf of Tonkin.
Jan. 24, 2000: East Timorese independence leader
Xanana Gusmao begins a four-day visit to Bejing.
Jan. 24-25, 2000: Four Chinese fishing vessels in
vicinity of Scarborough Shoal are chased by a Filipino navy patrol
craft. Two seek refuge in shallow waters near the shoal.
Jan. 27, 2000: Philippines naval personnel board two
Chinese fishing vessels and confiscate dynamite sticks, blasting
caps, and soft coral.
Jan. 27, 2000: The Philippines issues its second
protest over the intrusion of Chinese fishing vessels into the
Scarborough Shoal area.
Jan. 27, 2000:A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson,
in response to the boarding of two Chinese fishing vessels, warns
the Philippines not to create any new trouble in the South China
Jan. 28, 2000: Philippine Defense Secretary Orlando
Mercado directs the Navy to persuade intruders to leave its
territorial waters and to avoid direct confrontation.
Late January/early March. U.S.-Filipino joint military
exercise, codenamed Balikatan, is conducted in the
Feb. 1, 2000: Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Zhu
Bangzao, reveals that China has sent two notes to the Philippine
Embassy in Beijing expressing deep concern over recent developments
and lodging protests over illegal acts by the Philippines against
Chinese fishing vessels in the area around Huangyan Island
Feb. 2, 2000: After a short chase involving two
Chinese fishing boats in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal, the
Philippine navy destroyer escort Rajah Humabon fires warning
Feb. 3, 2000: Philippines' Ambassador to China,
Romualdo Ong, is summoned to the Chinese Foreign Ministry to explain
why the Philippine Navy has boarded two Chinese fishing
Feb. 3, 2000: Filipino fishermen report seeing two
unidentified platform vessels southeast of Scarborough Shoal. A
Philippine patrol boat and islander plane are tasked to conduct
naval and aerial patrols.
Feb. 5, 2000: Philippine Navy chief Vice Admiral
Luisito Fernandez states that destroyer escort Rajah Humabon
was forced to fire warning shots to avert a collision with two
Chinese fishing boats near Scarborough Shoal. The Chinese boats
reportedly refused to respond to radio contact, loudspeaker, sirens,
and flashing lights.
Feb. 7, 2000: Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado rules
out future arrests of Chinese fishermen who enter the Philippine
territorial waters. He orders preventive action instead.
Feb. 7, 2000: Defense Secretary Mercado states that
joint U.S.-Filipino military exercises are not linked in any way to
the growing tension between the Philippines and China over competing
claims in the South China Sea.
Feb. 16, 2000: The Philippines and China successfully
conclude negotiations on China's accession to the World Trade
Feb. 19, 2000: Defense Secretary Mercado proposes a
treaty, modeled on the Antarctic Treaty, to declare the disputed
South China Sea "common fishing ground" for claimant nations.
Feb. 22, 2000: Newly appointed Foreign Minister Nguyen
Dy Nien states that Vietnam attaches great importance to the
development of friendly relations with China as its long-term
Feb. 24, 2000: In response to China's White Paper on
Taiwan (issued February 21), a Vietnamese Foreign Ministry
spokesperson reiterates Vietnam's support for the "one-China"
February 27- March 2, 2000: Thai Deputy Prime Minister
Bhichai Rattakul makes an official visit to China at invitation of
Vice Premier Li Lanqing.
Feb. 28, 2000: Liu Qi, Mayor of Beijing, and Bhichit
Rattakul, Mayor of Bangkok, sign Year 2000 Memorandum of Friendly
Mar. 2, 2000: Senior officials from Indonesia and
China complete consultations on a draft document on the framework of
cooperation as the main foundation for enhancing bilateral relations
in the 21st Century
Mar. 7-20, 2000: Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn
Mar. 8-12, 2000: The Philippines Navy sights a total
of 16 Chinese vessels engaged in illegal fishing in the vicinity of
the disputed Scarborough Shoal.
Mar. 10, 2000:Suphachai Panitchpakdi, Thai Deputy
Prime Minister and Commerce Minister, and Shi Guangsheng, Chinese
Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, sign a bilateral
agreement on China's accession to the WTO.
Mar. 12, 2000:The China Institute of Contemporary
International Relations issues a paper calling for regional
alliances between China and most of Asia to oppose the United States
Mar. 13, 2000:Philippine Congressmen Senator Rodolfo
Biazon and Representative Juan Miguel Zubri call on President
Estrada to use American aid to modernize the Armed Forces of the
Philippines to enable it to respond to threats from other countries,
such as China, rather than spend the aid on counter-insurgency.
Mar. 13, 2000: Philippine navy vessels allow nine
Chinese fishing craft to shelter at Scarborough Shoal due to bad
Mar. 14, 2000: Yang Yanyi, Senior Counsellor of
Chinese Foreign Ministry, expresses concern over large-scale
military exercises involving countries outside the region.
Mar. 14, 2000: Reports claim that Vietnam's custom
service recently seized two Chinese ships trying to land smuggled
goods into north central Vietnam.
Mar. 14, 2000: Qian Shugen, deputy chief of the
General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, embarks on a
visit to Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
Mar. 15, 2000: Secretary of Defense William Cohen
addresses Vietnam's National Defense Academy. He states, "One of the
very important and beneficial aspects of ASEAN is that you have
collective interests, and those collective interests can in fact, if
you act in concert, give considerable leverage in dealing with China
in the future on a peaceful and cooperative basis."
Mar. 15-16, 2000: Chinese and ASEAN senior officials
meet in Thailand to discuss their respective draft Codes of Conduct
for the South China Sea. They agree to frame a common code of
conduct for territorial disputes in South China Sea. The next round
of discussions is scheduled for Kuala Lumpur in April.
Mar. 20, 2000: Philippine Representative Roilo Golez
says China has deployed spy ships in Scarborough Shoal area to
monitor movements by the Philippine Navy.
Mar. 20-22, 2000:Vietnam and China complete the 12th
round of bilateral negotiations on maritime borders in Gulf of
Mar. 22-27, 2000: Vice President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo visits China at the invitation of Vice President Hu
Mar. 23-30, 2000: A delegation of the CCP Central
Committee Organization Department, led by its deputy director, Yu
Yunyao, pays a friendly visit to Vietnam and Laos.
Mar. 26, 2000: The Philippine navy deploys two
gunships to convince eight Chinese fishing vessels still moored near
Scarborough Shoal to leave.
last quarter's chron]
|1 s t Q u a r t e r 2000: C h i n a -
A S E A N R e l a t i o n s|
Tensions Promote Discussions on a
Professor, Asia Pacific Center for Security
During the first quarter of the year China-ASEAN relations
were almost wholly focused on territorial disputes. China's
relations with the Philippines and Vietnam presented contrasting
patterns. Encroachments by Chinese fishing vessels in the waters
around Scarborough Shoal became a constant irritant and led to the
exchange of diplomatic protests and strongly worded statements
between Manila and Beijing. At the same time, China reacted
negatively to the revival of U.S.-Philippines joint military
exercises. In contrast, China and Vietnam moved to capitalize on the
signing of a Treaty on the Land Border by keeping the momentum of
negotiations going. China and Vietnam used the occasion of the 50th
anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations to wax
effusively about their "traditional friendly relations."
Elsewhere in the region, China and the pro-independence
leaders of East Timor discussed the shape of future relations. China
teamed up with Thailand to provide loans to Laos. China also
conducted negotiations on accession to the World Trade Organization
with Thailand and the Philippines.
Scarborough Shoal lies 200 nautical miles west of the
Zambales province in the Philippines. It is an outlying feature that
is not generally considered part of the Spratly Islands. On January
6, a Philippines' naval vessel sighted six Chinese fishing vessels,
reportedly carrying coral, off Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan in
Chinese). Four of the vessels later anchored inside the shoal. Three
of the Chinese vessels fled while three refused to leave. According
to a Philippine military report, the naval vessel "then left the
area in compliance with the rules of engagement." When told of the
incident, the Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines, Fu Ying,
claimed that what was thought to be coral was merely "piles of
fishing baskets used in fishing."
days after the incident, Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado stated,
"We should protest this incident because of its impact on food
security. Not only is Scarborough Shoal within our 200-mile
exclusive economic zone and part of our territory but also a
spawning ground for our corals. Not only are they intruding into our
space, they're destroying our corals as well. It seems they have no
concern for our food security." This provoked a response from Zhu
Bangzao, a spokesperson from the Chinese Foreign Ministry on January
11. According to Zhu, "Huangyan Island [Scarborough Shoal] is an
integral part of Chinese territory… The action taken by the
Philippine side has seriously hampered the peaceful production of
Chinese fishermen. We express our strong concern." On January 14,
the Philippines protested Chinese intrusions in a note
verbale delivered to the Chinese Embassy in Manila. The note
expressed the government's "serious concern" over the territorial
intrusion and the illegal collection of coral. The note also pointed
out that coral reefs are protected by three international
conventions to which China is a signatory.
Matters became more heated on January 23, when a Philippine
aircraft on maritime patrol reported citing four motorized wooden
Hainan-type Chinese fishing vessels and ten sampans near Scarborough
Shoal. Over the next two days, a Philipine navy patrol craft chased
four of the Chinese boats, two of which sought refuge in the shallow
waters of Scarborough Shoal. On January 26, Defense Secretary
Mercado announced he had ordered the navy to "make extra effort in
patrolling the area to prevent possible construction activities that
may take place." At the same time, Philippines' naval personnel
boarded two of the Chinese fishing vessels and confiscated nine
dynamite sticks, seven blasting caps and soft coral before ordering
them to leave. Bad weather prevented their departure.
Philippines issued its second diplomatic protest to China on January
27. The note verbale once again demanded that the People's Republic
of China "observe Philippine rules and regulations against illegal
entry" and refrain from "acts inimical to the protection and
preservation of the marine environment and resources." The protest
note also said that the recent "series of incursions" violated an
understanding reached between China and the Philippines in March
1999 to "refrain from acts which will increase tension and
complicate the situation in the South China Sea."
February 1, China stepped up its rhetoric. Foreign Ministry
spokesperson Zhu Bangzao declared, "Recently, the Philippine side
has, with regard for China's sovereignty over Huang Yan Island,
wantonly harassed Chinese fishermen engaging in normal fishing
operations in the waters and even gone so far as to force their way
on board to conduct inspections and rob the fishermen of property …
claiming that the Chinese fishing boats had violated the sovereignty
of the Philippines. This act of confusing right and wrong is not
acceptable to the Chinese side." Philippine officials dismissed the
Chinese statement out of hand.
Events in the area matched the step up in rhetoric. On
February 2, the Rajah Humabon, a destroyer escort, fired
warning shots at two Chinese fishing boats. According to Navy chief
Vice Admiral Luisito Fernandez, the Rajah Humabon was forced
to fire warning shots to avert a collision with two Chinese fishing
boats and only after the Chinese boats refused to respond to radio
contact, loudspeaker, sirens, and flashing lights. The following day
the Philippines' media reported that two Chinese "platform vessels"
reportedly carrying construction materials had been sighted
southeast of Scarborough Shoal.
events prompted re-analysis of Philippine strategy. On February 7,
Defense Secretary Mercado ruled out future arrests of Chinese
fishermen who entered Philippines' territorial waters. "In the end
[we] release them also. It's a tedious function. So, I think our
task now, instead of arresting them, is to be preventive in our
actions" and to deter fishing boats from entering disputed
territory, he said. His remarks were underscored by Lauro Baja,
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary, who stated that the Philippines was
in a "lose-lose" situation in dealing with Chinese fishermen because
of the cost and drain on resources. Domingo Siazon, Foreign
Secretary, stressed the same theme. He said foreign fishermen found
poaching in Philippine waters should no longer be arrested to avoid
tension. The navy's duty should be limited to guarding against the
destruction of the marine environment. Finally, in an effort to
diffuse tensions and lower the volume of rhetoric, on February 19,
Defense Secretary Mercado suggested that to ease tensions in the
South China Sea claimants should negotiate a treaty declaring the
disputed islands "common fishing ground" on the model of the
Antarctic Treaty, which declared the region a "common environmental
Nevertheless, Chinese fishing vessels continued to intrude
into waters claimed by the Philippines. Throughout the last two
weeks of February, Philippine air and naval patrol craft recorded
multiple sightings of Chinese vessels off Panata Reef, Nanshan Reef,
and Parola Island (North East Cay). In early March, at least five
Chinese fishing craft were sighted off Rizal Reef (Commodore Reef)
and two off Pagasa Island. These latest intrusions were more daring
than previously, as they took place in an area where the Philippines
maintained its largest military presence. In March 8-12, Philippine
authorities spotted a total of sixteen Chinese vessels gathering
coral and giant clams around Scarborough Shoal. The Chinese boats
refused to leave when signaled to do so. On March 26, the
Philippines' Navy deployed two gun ships to Scarborough Shoal in an
effort to intimidate the Chinese fishing vessels into leaving the
mid-March, while the above events unfolded, the Philippines
Ambassador to China Romualdo Ong was ordered to relay Manila's
concerns to Chinese authorities. He informed them that the
Philippines would delay filing a diplomatic protest in order to
observe the actions of nine Chinese boats. Meanwhile, Chinese
Ambassador to the Philippines, Fu Ying, agreed to raise the matter
with her Foreign Affairs and Agriculture ministries. Filipino
sources quoted Ambassador Fu as stating that Chinese officials were
unable to monitor the situation effectively because there were too
many Chinese fishing vessels in the Scarborough Shoal area. The
Philippines Navy was ordered to employ maximum tolerance toward
Throughout the first quarter Philippines' government
officials had to contend with domestic pressures. For example, in
January, Representative Roilo Golez, chair of the House Committee on
Public Order and Safety, charged that Chinese vessels near
Scarborough Shoal were preparing to occupy and erect permanent
structures in the area. On March 20, Golez speculated that China had
deployed spy ships to Scarborough Shoal disguised as commercial
fishing vessels to monitor the movements and communications of
Philippine military forces. Philippine government officials could
not confirm these allegations.
U.S.-Philippine Military Exercises
Philippine officials attempted to allay Chinese concerns
about the conduct of joint military exercises with the United States
during late January-early March. Codenamed "Balikatan 2000"
(Shoulder-to-Shoulder), the exercise involved up to 5,000 troops in
a variety of activities. On January 29, Defense Secretary Mercado
said he had been assured by Ambassador Fu Ying that China was not
opposed to the conduct of war games as they were a bilateral matter
between the Philippines and the United States. Mercado told
Ambassador Fu that naval exercises in Palawan would be in Philippine
waters. Armed Forces Chief General Angelo Reyes said the exercises
were not intended to send any message to China or any other country.
On February 7, Mercado stated that joint U.S.-Filipino military
exercises were not linked in any way to growing tension between the
Philippines and China over competing claims in South China Sea.
Despite these assurances, on March 14, on the eve of China-ASEAN
discussions on a code of conduct for the South China Sea, it was
reported that Yang Yanyi, Senior Counselor of China's Foreign
Ministry, expressed concern about large-scale military exercises
involving countries outside the region. "If some countries continue
to beef up their military alliances or joint exercises, all sides
will continue to be suspicious of one another," she said.
contrast to Sino-Philippines relations, Sino-Vietnamese relations
were tension free during this quarter. On December 30, 1999, China
and Vietnam reached an historic Treaty on the Land Border.
Vietnamese reactions and expectations following the signing of this
treaty have been very optimistic. Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister
Vu Khoan, for example, wrote that the treaty would permit better
border management, assist economic construction and development,
accelerate comprehensive bilateral cooperation, and create momentum
for the delineation of the Gulf of Tonkin in 2000.
January 24, Vu Khoan, enroute to North Korea, stopped in Beijing to
meet with Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan to discuss follow-up
measures to the border treaty including negotiations on the
delineation of the Gulf of Tonkin. There are a number of steps which
China and Vietnam must now take, including formal ratification of
the treaty by their respective legislatures. According to Tran Cong
Truc, chairman of Vietnam's Government Border Commission, the
borderline must be defined on land and border markers put in place.
After fieldwork is completed, both sides must sign a protocol to
certify the maps and the minutes accord with international law and
customary practice, then sign a convention on border management.
This process could take several years. In the meantime, any problem
that arises would be resolved under the terms of the provisional
treaty on border management signed in 1991. After Khoan's visit,
Vietnam and China held the seventh round of border talks in Beijing
(February 21-22), where officials discussed how to push forward
negotiations on demarcating the Gulf of Tonkin. The officials also
held annual consultations on diplomatic issues and "international
and regional issues of common concern.
During February 24-27, Nguyen Dy Nien made a three-day visit
to China, his first since appointment as Minister of Foreign
Affairs. Nien held talks with his Chinese counterpart, Tang Jiaxuan,
on differences over their land and maritime boundaries and ways to
raise total trade to $2 billion in 2000. Both parties reiterated
their desire to forge "comprehensive cooperation" and accelerate the
demarcation of the Gulf of Tonkin. Nien also met with Premier Zhu
Rongji and Li Peng. Premier Zhu noted that Nien's visit, so soon
after his appointment "clearly shows the Vietnamese party and
government attach great importance to the development of
Sino-Vietnamese relations." Nien's visit was followed by the twelfth
round of negotiations on maritime borders from March 20-22. The next
round is scheduled for in Hanoi in April.
upbeat nature of Sino-Vietnamese relations was further signaled in
January when both countries celebrated the 50th anniversary of the
establishment of diplomatic relations. The leaders of both countries
exchanged effusive greetings, highlighting their profound, fraternal
Code of Conduct
March 15, senior officials from China and ASEAN met in Thailand to
discuss for the first time their respective draft Codes of Conduct
for the South China Sea. According to press accounts, the proposed
draft code covered four areas: dispute resolution in the South China
Sea, building trust and confidence, cooperation on marine issues and
environmental protection, and modes of consultation. ASEAN tabled a
seven point code, while China put forth a document containing twelve
points. Both documents advocated cooperation to protect the
environment, marine scientific research, safety of navigation, and
search and rescue. Both also urged self-restraint and no resort to
the use or threat of force pending resolution of disputes.
are significant differences, however. China's draft consists of
general principles, while the ASEAN draft is more specific. One of
the major differences is the scope of geographic coverage. China
wants the Code confined to the Spratly Islands, while ASEAN insists
on the inclusion of the Paracels. The status of Scarborough Shoal
remains unclear. It is evident that there are differences within
ASEAN on the Paracels. According to Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon
at a February 2 press briefing, "if the area of coverage were
limited to (the) Spratlys, I think that I would say that within
three days, our diplomats would be able to find a set of words that
would be acceptable to the contesting parties in the
insists on a halt to future settlement and construction. Point 2 of
the ASEAN draft code states, "The parties undertake to refrain from
action of inhabiting or erecting structures in presently uninhabited
islands, reefs, shoals, cays and other features in the disputed
areas." China has concerns about "any military exercises directed
against other countries" in or near the Spratlys, and "dangerous and
close-in military reconnaissance." China pushed to attain assurance
that its fishermen would be able to fish in disputed areas of the
South China Sea. Beijing also proposed that the claimants "refrain
from use or threat of force, or taking coercive measures… against
fishing boats or other civilian vessels engaged in normal operation
in the disputed areas, nor against nationals of other countries
thereon." China defined coercive measures as including "seizure,
detention and arrest."
its present form, the ASEAN code is an open-ended document that
provides for regular consultation and checking for compliance in
order to build trust. It would not be legally binding. Disputes
between countries would be settled on a bilateral basis. At the end
of the March meeting it was agreed to hold the next round of talks
in Malaysia in April.
January 24, East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao
commenced a four-day visit to Bejing as part of a trip to South
Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand. Gusmao
sought Chinese aid, diplomatic recognition, and political support
for East Timor's membership in ASEAN and APEC. While in Beijing,
Gusmao held talks with Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic
Cooperation Shi Guangsheng, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, Vice
Premier Qian Qichen and Vice President Hu Jintao. After pledging
support for the "one-China" policy, Gusmao was successful on all
promised to establish diplomatic ties as soon as East Timor became
independent. In the meantime, China requested permission to open a
liaison office in Dili. Gusmao received an offer of $6 million in
aid and Chinese political support for membership in regional groups.
China also stated it would continue to support United Nations
peacekeeping efforts in East Timor. Both sides also worked out a
modus vivendi for East Timor-Taiwan relations.
China and World Trade Organization
January, Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suphachai Panitchpakdi visited
China and concluded negotiations with Shi Guangsheng, Minister for
International Trade and Economic Cooperation, on China's entry into
the World Trade Organization (WTO). Both sides signed a trade
agreement that provided for quotas for Thai agricultural produce
(rice and rubber) and tariff reductions on 94 products. Another 12
products, including tapioca powder and processed fruits, are subject
to further negotiations. An agreement on China's admission into the
WTO was signed in March.
February, the Philippines and China successfully concluded their
negotiations on China's accession to the WTO. Under the terms of the
agreement, the Philippines obtained favorable tariff concessions for
agricultural and industrial products and a tariff-only regime. China
previously reached agreements with Indonesia and Singapore. It has
yet to reach agreement with Malaysia.
Loans for Lao Infrastructure
the terms of an agreement reached between Deputy Prime Minister
Suphachai Panitchpakdi and Vice Minister of Finance Jin Linqun,
Thailand and China have agreed to equally loan money to the Lao
government to enable it to buy back concessions previously granted
to Thai companies. The purpose of this arrangement is to finance the
upgrading of a 150 km road linking Chiang Rai (Thailand) with Luang
Namtha (Laos) and Bo Ten, Jinghong and Kunming in China. The
agreement was reached at the ninth ministerial conference of Greater
Mekong Subregion held in Manila under the auspices of the Asian
Development Bank. The opening of this area would facilitate trade
Secretary of Defense William Cohen's remarks to the
Vietnamese National Defense Academy urging ASEAN members to use
their collective leverage in dealing with China on disputed
territory in the South China Sea is to be welcomed for the message
it sent to Beijing and other capitals in the region (see chronology:
15 March). At the same time, the revived U.S. military-to-military
relationship with the Philippines has served the useful purpose of
reminding regional states that the U.S. is not just a Northeast
Asia-centered power. These initiatives, which have been undertaken
in an election year, must be followed up by whoever wins the White
House in November. The United States must reassure its traditional
allies and seek further engagement with former foes if it is to
shape the potentially volatile regional security
*The views expressed in this article are those of the
author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the
Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Department of Defense, or
the U.S. Government.