With cooling regional temperatures in East Asian affairs and politics, some wonder if the defense budgets in the region will also cool down correspondingly. The Trump-Kim summit in Singapore set the way for the possibility of lasting peace in East Asia.
At the ASEAN meetings, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated an indirect but obvious warning to China that Washington was committed to the rule of law in the South China Sea. He then announced a security aid package to Southeast Asia prioritizing maritime security.
Singapore hosted the 51st ASEAN Ministerial Meeting from July 30 to August 4, 2018. ASEAN will certainly seek to augment its community building in a world where geopolitical shifts and disruptive forces are taking place.
In the run up to US Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ first visit to China from June 27-28, 2018, he said: “I want to go in without poisoning the well and do a lot of listening.” Well he certainly got an earful regarding the South China Sea.
By reframing the issue, the perceived threat to the DPRK’s ideological and psychological security may be reduced. A common discursive ground may then be found to engage the DPRK without a breakdown in dialogue on denuclearization, peace and the normalization of relations.
The war of words and tit-for-tat provocative actions of China and the US regarding the South China Sea could spiral out of control. Thus, it is a good time for analysts and decision makers to step back and distinguish between hope (the possible) and reality (the probable).