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Beijing’s reiteration of sovereignty and territorial integrity indicates that China’s new leadership will maintain past practice. While there is little doubt that current Asean chair Brunei will be able to steer regional discussions clear of rocky shoals during the remainder of 2013, all eyes will be on Myanmar’s preparations to serve as Asean chair for 2014.

Across mid-2013, South-East Asia’s position as the focus and locus of attention and rivalry from its North-East Asian neighbours and the US will continue to define the region’s geopolitics. Asean should leverage its centrality to work out clear “codes of conduct” that will help manage and assuage any tensions that may arise in either the political or the economic sphere.


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