While Washington has failed to craft a better narrative than ‘democracy vs authoritarianism’, US-led strategic thinkers are misreading the signs, taking non-aligned Asian countries such as India for allies, underestimating Moscow’s strength and failing to see that US policies have pushed Russia and China closer.
The China-brokered deal has provoked anxiety in some quarters over Beijing’s growing clout. However, the principles on which the deal was grounded are international norms, which Asean has been prioritising for years with success.
Rather than ruining Hong Kong, the national security law has bolstered the status quo and returned stability to the streets. Beijing could have shown this rebellious city what abandonment looked like, but it kept faith with Hong Kong and the facts speak for themselves.
The US is prioritising military approaches over economics and that jars with a region deeply invested in peace, stability and prosperity. This crisis demands thinking and acting outside the box of political expediency, but there is little sign the US is capable of doing so.
The Western allies’ agreement will struggle to get regional buy-in and ultimately underdeliver. Failing to consult countries in the region was an initial liability, but refusing to consider their concerns afterwards secured its fallibility.
Manila’s move derives from the defunct Sulu sultanate’s North Borneo claim. The South China Sea ruling shows claims based on historical interpretation are not recognised.