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The US is taking on Beijing over the South China Sea, but Asean remains cautious

  • With US-China ties fraying and a need for trade with China amid the Covid-19 pandemic, countries in the region cannot risk siding with Washington, analysts say
  • Negotiations over a code of conduct in the disputed waterway could also stall following the USโ€™ assertions that Beijingโ€™s claims are โ€˜completely unlawfulโ€™

Most Asean countries will remain cautious and not publicly take the United Statesโ€™ side after Washington rejected Beijingโ€™s expansive claims in the South China Sea, according to analysts.

Observers said countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations were also worried about the ramifications of a possible clash between the worldโ€™s two largest economies after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday said Chinaโ€™s assertions of sovereignty in the disputed waterway were โ€œcompletely unlawfulโ€.Le Hong Hiep, research fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, said Pompeoโ€™s statement would allow Asean countries to enjoy aย stronger legal and political position vis-ร -vis Beijingย in the South China Sea.

Full article available: https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3093183/us-taking-beijing-over-south-china-sea-asean-remains-cautious

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