Saturday, July 12, 2014

US, Japan, ASEAN and Maritime Security in Southeast Asia

US, Japan, ASEAN and Maritime Security in Southeast Asia
Aileen S.P. Baviera, University of the Philippines

Presented at a Workshop organized by the East-West Center in Washington, Japan Institute of International Affairs, Institute for Southeast Asian Studies, and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation,
12-13 June 2014, ISEAS Singapore


Security challenges in Southeast Asia are diverse, comprising both traditional security (e.g. inter-state territorial disputes and intra-state armed conflicts) and nontraditional security (e.g. pandemics, climate change), state security as well as human security. This paper recognizes this but concentrates on a very important arena where recent developments have sharply aggravated concerns over security – i.e. the maritime security environment.

Maritime security in Southeast Asia itself covers at least four interconnected layers of security challenges, having different set of stakeholders and interests.  These include: (1.) territorial sovereignty disputes over islands and other features in Southeast Asian seas; (2.) disputes over maritime rights and jurisdictions (e.g. access to fish, energy and mineral resources, regulation of other activities at sea) arising from unclear and overlapping boundaries and in part from territorial disputes;  (3.) increasing geopolitical competition among major powers, attendant to perceptions of power shift;  (4.) nontraditional security challenges common to many states (e.g. threats to safety of life at sea, piracy, effects of natural disasters and of climate change)

The complexity of maritime security in Southeast Asia requires various levels and dimensions of cooperation and competition, implying complexity of possible roles of the US, Japan, ASEAN and other actors, separately and collectively, in addressing such challenges. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014


East-West Center Asia-Pacific Bulletin

President Barack Obama’s visit to the Philippines, the last leg of his recent four-nation Asian tour, produced a new bilateral defense agreement that was touted by some observers as the single most significant outcome of his regional foray. The agreement was said to contribute to his goals of reassuring allies and signaling that the United States is serious about its “rebalance” to Asia. How does the signing of the 10-year Philippines-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) help promote overall security relations between the United States and the Philippines and how might the agreement impact ongoing efforts to manage the territorial and maritime disputes in the South China Sea?

When the Philippine government of Corazon Aquino voted in 1991 to close Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base—major American military facilities in Southeast Asia—at the end of the Cold War, the strategic importance of the alliance to both parties declined. Notwithstanding cordial relations with China in the past and active multilateral diplomacy with ASEAN, Philippine governments since the 1980s have sought to persuade the United States to include Manila’s territorial claims in the South China Sea in the scope of their mutual defense obligations. Absent such guarantees, many Filipinos believe the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) to be one-sided, committing Philippine support for US strategic objectives while failing to secure US support for the one external defense issue that truly matters to Manila.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia

Growing Strategic Rivalry Among East Asia's Great Powers-Implications for Southeast Asia and the South China Sea
     To access the original source, go to

Recent events in the East China Sea and the South China Sea portend that things are bound to get worse before they get better, with respect to the territorial and maritime resource disputes between China and various regional states.

China’s November 23, 2013 declaration of an Air Defense Indentification Zone on the East China Sea, overlapping an area of the Diaoyutai/Senkakus disputed with Japan, has rankled its neighbors, principally Japan and South Korea.  It has pushed these countries as well as the United States and Australia to challenge the new rules Beijing imposed, by flying into the declared ADIZ without reporting their flight plan to China or taking unusual steps to identify themselves. In China’s defense, Chinese sources argue that countries have the right to declare ADIZ – as Japan itself declared one in the same area over forty years ago and that the US and about twenty other countries have several such zones that other states respect — and that moreover the move was defensive and in response to Japanese politicians’  threat to shoot down Chinese drones flying over Japanese airspace.