The two day Asean Summit came and gone minus the high tension of the last few summits when the Americans and the little Americas were working hand in glove to pressure China with unreasonable demands on the South China Sea island dispute. The Americans thought they could reenact the play like they did before, with the Philippines as the point man, and with greater influence with Obama and Abe to lend weight to the little Americas.
Obama repeated the same call that China must accept the ridiculous rulings of The Hague as binding and to respect them as international law. The big question is whether the Americans would abide by such a ruling when the procedures and composition of the court members and their biased agenda were no different from a kangaroo court? For that matter, would any of the American allies accept such a ruling as binding when the whole process and protocol was anything but fair and just?
The outcome of the Summit would have been the same, with the heads of states politicking and wasting their time on the South China Sea dispute, raising tension and temperature but with no solution or progress on the matter. What the Americans and their allies did not bargain for, did not plan for, was that this time the Philippines have called out, did not want to participate in an American farce and using the Philippines as a political pawn.
In President Duterte was a man that could see through the intrigue and conspiracy of the Americans and their allies and most importantly the hypocrisy of the scam. Once Duterte called out, there was nothing else that the Americans and their allies could do to continue with their political game. The Summit returned to its normal self, to discuss issues that would unite and project Asean interests than the interest of foreign powers, to discuss on more important issues and challenges facing Asean instead of dramatising to raise tension and disunity in the group.
Asean concluded the Meeting with positive pledges to work by peaceful negotiation with interested countries, particularly China, to settle their differences. Obama and Abe returned empty handed, unable to stoke fire in the South China Sea dispute and must be very disappointed for failing to do so, to divide Asean and raise tension in the South China Sea. Normalcy has returned to the region and it is business as usual. The threats of military confrontation and the use of force manipulated by extra regional powers is passé.
After several years of highly tense and unproductive summits, this is perhaps the best Summit for Asean with Asean setting the agenda and not be influenced and dictated by big powers. Asean has taken charge and would henceforth be in control of future meetings and chart its own destiny.