Watch what states in the South China Sea do, not what they say. Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations reached an agreement with China on a draft “code of conduct,” which lay the foundation for future talks on the disputed waters. Don’t expect much to come of this, even if a final agreement is ever struck. China’s goal is to keep everyone talking and to exploit the divisions endemic in ASEAN. There’s no reason to believe that China is prepared to make major concessions – or even that the code of conduct would be much different from the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed in 1992, which failed to alter the course of the standoff. More important is what’s happening on the ground – namely, that an agreement was struck between PetroVietnam and Japanese firms to sell natural gas from a block on the edge of China’s maritime claims. China is believed to have forced Hanoi to scrap a pair of drilling deals with European firms last ye
Daily Memo: Words and Deeds in the South China Sea, Oil in Iraq, Power in the US
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