ASEAN splits as China ally Cambodia takes the chair

Phnom Penh is expected to de-emphasize South China Sea disputes and engage Myanmar’s junta as per Beijing’s wishes.

With Cambodia taking over the rotational chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), key regional states are closing ranks on sensitive geopolitical challenges.

The last time Cambodian strongman Hun Sen was in charge of the regional body, ASEAN failed for the first time in its history to issue a joint communique amid disagreements on South China Sea disputes that pit regional states against China.

A staunch Beijing ally, the Cambodian leader openly blocked even the discussion of the maritime disputes, much to the chagrin of ASEAN founding members such as the Philippines and Vietnam. In response, a perturbed Indonesia embarked on high-stakes shuttle-diplomacy to prevent a further breakdown in the regional body.

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