There is no bigger news in Asean these days than the collapse of efforts to produce a joint communique after the recent 45th ministerial meeting in Phnom Penh. Much of the blame has been laid at the feet of host Cambodia but that misses the larger point.
The failure to issue a communique was the first in the history of the 10-member organisation that prides itself on harmony and consensus. Some observers have begun to question what Cambodia was doing as the Asean chair this year.
What happened in Phnom Penh, in a nutshell, was that one country’s fear of offending China somehow managed to trump all the others’ desire to send Beijing a stern message about its behaviour in the South China Sea.
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