ASEAN just had their foreign ministers, plus, meeting in Malaysia.
At the ASEAN meeting, Kingdom of Thailand foreign minister, standing at a podium with China’s foreign minister, said, if China’s foreign minister was a women, he would fall in love with the Chinese foreign minster. The Kingdom is spending about US$ 1 billion to buy 3 Chinese submarines, in proof of further drift of the Kingdom, deep into China’s sphere of influence (The Kingdom’s Royalty are extremely close to China & the Kingdom’s business leaders are mostly Thai, of Chinese blood and origin). Meanwhile, USA is in the process of a slow strategic withdrawal from the Kingdom, with many iconic type of units, calling for divesting cooperation interest with the Kingdom, to other ASEAN countries. The joint Kingdom and USA militarized, is also being water-down, into an exit strategy.
Days before that, leading up to the meeting, Singapore’s foreign minister, said ASEAN cannnot be silence on the South China Sea issue (China is turning small atolls into large naval and air base in the highly disputed, by many countries, South China Sea). Singapore and USA have a strong military alliance, as Singapore is strategically located at the heavily used and important, sea channel. However, Singapore is also a strong ally of Thailand and China, on the economic front, and many have questioned Singapore’s commitment.
At the ASEAN meeting, Philippines made several “Calling-Out” of China, from calling China “Aggressive” to calling for ASEAN to “Condemn” China. And Philippines just months ago, announced a massive spending out-lay, to buy military equipment, to counter China. Even Japan, traditionally, not close to the Philippines from a history point of view, and the Philippines, are becoming closer, as Japan is starting to pledge significant, military and economic assistance to the Philippines.
Then Vietnam, long building up its military capability and relations with USA, to counter China (Apart from territorial dispute with China, China have been attacking Vietnamese fishing fleet) broke South China Sea issue grip on ASEAN, and the state press (with hope) said ASEAN, will increase employment opportunity for ASEAN member states (days ago, Western press reports Vietnamese labor is being traffic into China, to work in factories, helping the Made in China Brand).
The final communications, of this ASEAN plus meeting, said ASEAN noted member state concerns on some issues. A cop-out perhaps, but this is not new, i.e. in the ASEAN meet in Cambodia recently, Cambodia blocked the mentioning of anything, relating to South China Sea.
Perhaps, the biggest failure also, in this ASEAN meet, is also the global press, that failed to bring up, the Rohingya issue, or if they did, they have not reported the issue as of yet.