chapter  1
The South China Sea disputes
Recent developments
WithMark J. Valencia
Pages 13

Thailand the country co-ordinator for ASEAN China relations hosted a Senior Officials Meeting on 25 October to discuss the South China Sea disputes. The meeting tabled guidelines for negotiations between ASEAN and China for the coming year and urged China to return to discussions on a code of conduct (COC). On another more technical front the Philippines hosted the third ASEAN Maritime Forum (AMF) and the first Expanded Maritime Forum. The AMF seeks to promote maritime cooperation under the ASEAN political security community framework with a key element being the maintenance of ASEAN centrality in addressing maritime issues in the region. There are several ways the South China Sea political drama could unfold. In perhaps the worst scenario from an ASEAN perspective the US China rivalry will feed upon itself, becoming a serious ideological and political struggle dominating the issues, splitting ASEAN on this issue, and subordinating its centrality in security.