ASEAN unity and the threat of Chinese expansion

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Shortly after US President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Asia, where he underscored Washington’s commitment to remain as an anchor of stability in the region, a new crisis erupted in the South China Sea. Pressing its territorial claims in adjacent waters, China dispatched HYSY981, a state-of-the-art deep-sea rig, which belongs to the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), well into Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Chinese officials tried to justify the move by describing it as a natural progression of CNOOC’s surveillance operations in the contested waters, but most analysts believe that political considerations, as opposed to commercial calculations, were…

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