China’s placement of a giant state-owned oil rig in the East Sea demonstrates “the willingness of an emerging global power to use force to settle an international dispute,” said David Koh, a Singaporean independent consultant.

In an article for Singapore’s The Straits Times, David Koh, who has studies Vietnam for 20 years, wrote that the use of paramilitary forces in the region “poses very serious challenges to the fundamental principles that have underlined peace in the region for several decades” and “ASEAN members should therefore consider formulating a collective response”.

According to David Koh, China has in the last two decades paid lip service to the idea of a code of conduct, while undertaking military modernisation and consolidation of its claims.

He wrote “Chinese attempts to construct economic relationships with ASEAN should be viewed. China appears to expect ASEAN members to acquiesce to its claims because it has given economic goodies to ASEAN. China may also believe it is strong enough to ignore ASEAN's need for peace and security.

“Thus, it is time for ASEAN to reassess the extent to which China has become a threat to the regional order that ASEAN has carefully constructed and operated over the last four decades”.-VNA