During the swearing-in ceremony of new lawmakers at Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, two lawmakers referred to the former British colony as the “Hong Kong nation.” A pro-Beijing publication translated the word “nation” as “guo” in Chinese. “Guo” or “guojia” can be understood as nation, country, or state.
“Make America Great Again” was Trump’s campaign slogan. This probably translates to a Reaganesque “peace through strength” approach. Implementing such a policy in Southeast Asia is likely to be accompanied by blusters, threats and shows of force and gunboat diplomacy.
The success of Duterte’s visits to Beijing and Tokyo has initiated new dynamics in ASEAN’s position on the South China Sea issue. The Philippines will assume the rotating chairmanship of ASEAN next year and its success in lowering tensions on the South China Sea issue will likely become the ASEAN stand.
A debate between Kurt Campbell, the architect of the US pivot to Asia, and Australian strategic thinker Hugh White makes clear that the South China Sea has become the cockpit of US-China competition for domination of Asia. The outcome may determine whose principles, values and “order” will shape the future of Asia.
Some US academics suggest that a US-China grand bargain to establish a balance of power is a precondition for peace in the South China Sea region. Or, will a legal deal establishing a joint development regime and disengagement from illegal maritime assertions solve most of the current problems?
In recent weeks, US-Philippines relations have undergone a rough patch as President Duterte has sought to “rebalance” Philippine foreign policy and lessen its dependence on the US. The reaction of policy makers and analysts in the US has ranged from anger to handwringing to ignoring the significance and roots of the problem.
It has now been nearly three months since the arbitral panel ruling against China’s claims to maritime space in the South China Sea. The decision has set in motion political and military adjustments. But none of them contribute to the resolution of the conflicting claims or to the contest between the US and China.
Hong Kong’s 2016 Legislative Council election witnessed the success of the localists, including the victory of five young candidates, who advocated the ideas of localism, democracy, and self-determination.
Legal problems include whether the Philippines had fully communicated with China before initiating the arbitration, whether the tribunal had obeyed the legal principle of prudence, whether the ruling was fair and just, whether it was reasonable to declare that Taiping/Itu Aba Island is rock, etc.