The lack of support for Vietnam by other Asian nations in its dispute with China over a drilling rig in the South China Sea raises questions about how seriously the region takes the threat of Chinese bullying.
China has installed a large oil rig near the Paracel Islands, 140 miles off the Vietnamese coast, and defended its right to be there with naval vessels. Vietnamese leaders expected that other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, meeting last week, would have supported them. Such support did not come.
It’s plausible to suspect that China exerted economic or political pressure on ASEAN members. But the question for the United States becomes: If nations near China aren’t willing to defend their interests on issues of sovereignty, then why should the United States?