Sunday, July 25, 2021

ASEAN – A Fractured Unity: ASEAN’s Institutional Cohesiveness with South China Sea as a Case Study

This paper examines the reasons that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had difficulty in reaching consensus, even on the Lowest Common Denominator level, regarding the South China Sea dispute in the timespan from 2010 to 2017. The main focus on this research is to investigate the internal dynamics between ASEAN member-states and their strategies towards China, the already-powerful regional player and a rising international actor, and how these factors have affected ASEAN’s cohesiveness. The investigation reveals the fractured cohesiveness of ASEAN that systematically prevent the organization from reaching consensus on this politically sensitive dispute. It suggests that as long as differences among ASEAN member-states remain, and the countries regard China as a more beneficial economic partner, ASEAN will continue to be fractured. Consequently, ASEAN will remain as an ineffective institutional organization in reaching a consensus regarding politically sensitive issues – in this case, the South China Sea.


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