Maritime Security Tops 2015 Agenda for SE Asia

South China Sea sunset

By MarEx 2015-01-08 16:15:29

Southeast Asia enters 2015 facing a number of critical challenges that will affect its future, including how might maritime security disputes unite or splinter ASEAN? John J. Brandon reported on http://asiafoundation.org/ that maritime security will remain a topic of “paramount importance” to the region. 

Southeast Asia is a critical maritime region for commerce and resources, and its waters are one of the world’s most important sea lines of communication. $5.3 trillion of global trade transits through Southeast Asian waters each year, while sixty percent of Southeast Asian populations live in or rely economically on the region’s maritime zones. But issues like territorial disputes, piracy and environmental degradation threaten the region’s prosperity and security.

The significance of maritime boundaries in current international relations has become increasingly complex with the expansion of national limits of maritime jurisdiction over the past 50 years. In December, Vietnam issued a statement to go along with the Philippines’ submission to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PAC) in The Hague challenging China’s claims in the South China Sea. In 2015, the PAC will determine if it has jurisdiction to rule on the case. China has said it will not partake in the proceedings and rejects the claims made against it.

Brandon stated: “If this were to happen, how can arbitration be used in other cases to peacefully resolve disputes, be they be in Asia or elsewhere, if one side elects not to participate in the process? Moreover, how will territorial disputes impact ASEAN unity? As one Southeast Asian official recently told me, ‘ASEAN may become a community, but we will not have one voice’.”

Read the full article on other critical challenges facing Southeast Asia in 2015 here.