The ASEAN Spirit: Solving South China Sea Dispute With Sensibility and Restraint

While the Philippines and Vietnam lobbied for the inclusion of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration's judgment on the South China Sea dispute in the ASEAN communiqué, Cambodia acted against the initiative. Valdai Club contributor Vladimir Petrovsky explained how this will impact the situation in the South China Sea. 

“This can stabilize the situation in the South China Sea. When it comes to ASEAN countries, we know that decisions there are made by consensus. What happened is a manifestation of the so-called ‘ASEAN spirit,’ the desire to achieve a balance of interests, sound judgment, restraint,” Vladimir Petrovsky, senior fellow at the Center for the Studies and Forecasting of Russia-China Relations, told

The past summit shows that Vietnam and the Philippines’ attempt to take the issue to the ASEAN level have failed, according to Petrovsky.

“This is an argument in favor of the idea that the complicated situation which has emerged has to be solved in the spirit of documents that China and ASEAN signed earlier,” Petrovsky said, referring to a declaration on a South China Sea code of conduct.

The fact that the resolution did not include wording regarding the Hague Court’s decision confirms that a considerable number of countries doubt the court’s legitimacy because it is not mentioned in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, according to Petrovsky.

“This is an issue that is also the subject of dispute,” Petrovsky said.

On July 12, China declared that it considers the tribunal to be lacking jurisdiction. According to Petrovsky, the only way out of this situation is through bilateral talks between China and the countries that it is involved in territorial disputes with.

“This is a long, but also the only sensible road, which ASEAN spoke of earlier. And, by the way, the essence of Russia’s position on this is the same. Russia calls on sides to settle the dispute peacefully, without interference from outside,” Petrovsky added.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.