Thursday, November 13, 2014

ASEAN Summit: Myanmar did not do a Cambodia

By all appearances, Pres. Aquino was given a free rein to push Our Country's West Philippine Sea agenda at the recently-concluded ASEAN Summit in Myanmar.  This is in sharp contrast to what happened in 2012 at Cambodia.

It is possible that with the Damocles sword of the Rohingya crisis hanging over their heads, the leaders of Myanmar thought that they would need all the friends that they could get at the Summit.  Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei are definitely not too happy with what's happening to the Rohingyas right now.

But I think we are just seeing the independent streak of the Myanmarese at work here.  These people have always followed the beat of their own drums. 

Unlike Cambodia, Myanmar cannot just be pushed around to do Beijing's will.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Will Myanmar do a Cambodia at the ASEAN Summit?

Pres. Benigno Aquino III is expected to push for a legally-binding code of conduct in the disputed waters of the West Philippine Sea at Myanmar.

ASEAN members who have a more or less direct stake in the issue (i.e. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Singapore) are expected to support this initiative.  The long-term integrity of their territorial possessions in the area will probably depend on it.

Some ASEAN members (take note, not all) who do not have a direct stake in the issue, on the other hand, might seize this as a golden opportunity to wrangle economic carrots from Beijing.

Cambodia played this stalking horse strategy in the past.  Expect them to do it again.

But in situations like this, the most valuable foreign policy Judas act of all from the viewpoint of Beijing will be that of the host.

Only the na├»ve, therefore, would still believe that, by this time, Beijing has not yet greased the proverbial wheel that will compel Myanmar to do a Brutus on the rest of us.

Et tu Myanmar?