The MOU between the Philippines and China is an important step for bilateral efforts towards the direction of expanding cooperation to marine resources development. It will also impact dispute management and peace and security in the South China Sea.
In October 2018, the MoU on the feasibility study of the Muse-Mandalay railway, a part of the USD 20 billion Sino-Myanmar railway, was signed. This led to the speculation that the canceled Sino-Myanmar railway might be resumed.
The US and China are increasingly confronting each other militarily in the South China Sea. The US is deploying new undersea drones in multiple sizes and diverse payloads. China’s use of drones in the East China Sea has already raised political hackles.
On November 16, 2018, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal handed down its verdicts for Case 002/02. The surviving top leaders of the Khmer Rouge, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, were found guilty of “various crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.”
ASEAN states’ unwavering support of the “ASEAN Way,” characterized by the making of consensus in tackling regional issues, probably suggested that they maintained a prudent and pragmatic diplomatic posture towards China, in between firm rebalancing and full endorsement.
The EU warned that it would withdraw its trade preferences given to Cambodia, if Cambodia could not reverse the perceived deterioration of its human rights situation. The country should not underestimate the potential severe impact of the withdrawal on its garment industry.
A robust, binding code of conduct for the South China Sea has become a “holy grail” for analysts and decision makers alike. Many have tried to find it and failed. The Blueprint for a South China Sea Code of Conduct is likely to fail to gain wide acceptance too.
The EU has started the process to withdraw Cambodia’s trade benefits under the “Everything But Arms arrangement, or EBA, which guarantees completely tariff-free access to the European market for all exports except for weapons and ammunition.”
The near-collision between the United States warship Decatur and a Chinese warship in September 2018 is only the most recent in a series of near misses between their warships and warplanes in and over the South China Sea.