Asean farting nonsense
Asean lately is preoccupied with its quarrel with China, and the main issues stated are freedom of sea navigation, territorial dispute and Asean’s unity. Let me just deal with the strawman within Asean, its unity as a regional bloc of countries trying to present a single view or position to other blocs or big countries.
The differences within the Asean bloc of countries need no further clarification, from social, political, economic and religious angles, Asean countries are like oil and water. For Asean countries to come together, the glue is at best the lowest common denominator. The only area that Asean could ever think of gelling together as one in a lose way is economic cooperation. Politically, with the entry of Vietnam, another ambitious regional power, the level of complexities increases by leaps and bounds.
Vietnam and the Philippines have territorial claims with China and their willingness to drag in the Americans will only raise the temperature and tension in the region. It is increasing daily with the Americans fanning the fire and waiting to make the most out of this regional dispute. Asean unity is now in the frying pan. Can Asean countries afford to take sides as a united bloc on such national and territorial issues? Fat hope. But some Asean countries seem to differ and wanted Asean to be united as one in its negotiation and claims against Chinese territories. Only foolish govt will think that the Chinese will allow their territories to be taken from them because some jokers decided to make a claim for it. The Filipino mentality of claims did not fade away with the Marcos. And they really think that with the American gunboats behind them they could succeed. The same kind of thinking applies to Vietnam. China will go to war with the US if its territorial sovereignty is challenged. They are tolerating the Japanese to maintain good relations, but some Japanese are seeing this as a weakness to be exploited. Think of the eventualities if there is a war between China and Japan today?
The most silly issue Asean is farting around is freedom of navigation. This is an issue that has never been an issue until the Philippines and Vietnamese started to harass and arrest Chinese ships. Funny isn’t it? The trouble makers are pointing the fingers at the Chinese. But when the real devil has its fingers in the region, tension will rise and non existence conflict will simply flare up.
The real threat to freedom of navigation at one time was the Malacca and Sunda Straits. But with regime changed, pragmatism and common sense prevail and the two waterways are now free for ships to cross as international highways.
What about east Africa? Is there a problem that threatens freedom of navigation? Why is there a problem and the Empire with all its resources is unable to quell it? Why are the 6th or 7th Fleets of the world’s most powerful navy not there to clear the waterway to ensure freedom of navigation? Where is Hillary? Still cooking her soup in the kitchen?
There is a clear and present danger, and threats to freedom of navigation in the east African sea. Instead of defending the freedom of navigation there, the Americans are harping up a threat in South China Sea when there was none except when the Vietnamese and the Filipinos start to behave like pirates. And Asean, as usual, have to act on someone else’s agenda, acting on an imaginery threat that is non existence before. And they are blowing hot and cold, from Manila, Jakarta, Singapore, Hanoi to Beijing. The ill wind actually came from across the Pacific Ocean in the guise of peace and stability, and the hegemonic umbrella of the Empire. So Asean now has a monster to fight and the Asean countries are having sleepless nights, sharing the same bed and the same nightmare. The threat of freedom to navigation is as real as they make it and want to believe it in, or as spun by the Empire.
Asean can go on farting and act important. It is as good as NATO in credibility in forming a united front against any super power. Its agenda in the annual Asean Summit Meeting has been hijacked unceremoniously without it knowing what has happened.