Currently, practice cooperation is the mainstream of the China-ASEAN relations, but a few ASEAN countries always talk to China about the South China Sea on various occasions as long as they have a chance. They even want to bring the whole ASEAN with them to talk about it with China. In the South China Sea, another factor that must not be ignored is the United States. The complex situation is testing the ASEAN.
It was after the United States showed its concern on the "freedom of navigation" of the sea in 2009 that the South China Sea turned into a major topic in meetings of various levels within the ASEAN frame. In fact, both commercial and civil navigations do not have any problem in the South China Sea and the military navigation in the international waters of the sea does not have any dispute either. The dispute came from the military use of the exclusive economic zone of the sea and this dispute directly occurred between the United States and China.
The narrowly-defined "freedom of navigation" has been extended to the broadly-defined usage of the South China Sea and the boundary drawing is closely connected with the whole situation.
The military usage of the sea is a policy challenge of the "high politics" realm in international relations.
Although the transitions of the hot issues of West Asia and North Africa are essentially different from the boundary drawing of the South China Sea, they are important references for the ASEAN to consider how to deal with the South China Sea issue and other "high politics" issues of the region.
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