Appearing on Al Jazeera Newshour, EastWest Institute Senior Fellow Franz-Stefan Gady discussed the recently negotiated ASEAN-China South China Sea Code of Conduct. The code hopes to provide a new framework for diplomatically handling the multilateral territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Gady contends that although any diplomatic effort that tries to diffuse armed tensions between nations should be welcome, the code's lack of provision for legal enforcement is likely a diplomatic victory for Beijing, who does not actually want to resolve any of the disputes. China would rather pursue one-on-relations relations with other claimant countries in order to enhance its barganining power.
Moreover, Gady underscored that the code of conduct will likely attempt to pacify the concerns of outside parties, namely the United States. Beijing's militarization of the South China Sea—which is likely to persist—ultimately serves to challenge the United States' role as a "status quo power" and looks to raise its own sphere of influence in the region.