Comparative Connections v.17 n.2 – US-Southeast Asia
Senior State and Defense Department officials made several visits to Southeast Asia over the summer months, assuring their hosts that the US remained committed to a robust air and naval presence in the region, and assisting the littoral countries of the South China Sea in developing maritime security capacity. Washington is particularly focused on providing a rotational military force presence in Southeast Asia. On the South China Sea territorial disputes, US officials emphasized the need for peaceful approaches to conflict settlement among the claimants, pointing to arbitration and negotiation based on the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Washington has also accentuated the importance of security partners for burden-sharing, noting the potential for an enhanced role for Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force in South China Sea patrols. Efforts to involve Southeast Asian states in negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have elicited candidates from only four of the 10 ASEAN states – Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, and Brunei. Others have problems meeting several requirements associated with the partnership.