After many years of peaceful agreements and conflict resolution attitudes from the ASEAN free trade area countries, 2012 was filled with heated discussions and humiliating summit meetings. The core of all these disagreements was the South China Sea conflict. The islands situated in this territory called the “cow’s tongue” are rich in natural resources, trade routes, and have been military strategic points for several years. The fact that China claims sovereignty over this territory has raised many concerns among the neighboring countries, with the Philippines and Vietnam being the strongest opponents. In addition to these disputes, the U.S. has started a “pivot” military strategy towards Asia, increasing tension in the area. Will this divide the ASEAN countries and start a new conflict?
by Christina Håkansson