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NOVA DELI – O ano de 2012 começou com as reivindicações supurantes da soberania chinesa no Mar da China Meridional e no Mar da China Oriental, mas também com a esperança de que um código de conduta mediado pela Associação de Nações do Sudeste Asiático (ASEAN) permitiria que fossem resolvidas pacificamente. No entanto, o ano está a terminar com essa esperança desfeita e com a ASEAN mais dividida do que nunca. De facto, uma meia dúzia dos seus membros parece agora ansiosa em subordinar os seus interesses nacionais - e os interesses da ASEAN - aos da China.

A assertividade crescente da China em delimitar as suas reivindicações contribuiu para a vitória esmagadora dos liberais-democratas propensos à defesa nacional no Japão e para a eleição da conservadora Park Geun-hye, como sendo a primeira mulher a governar a Coreia do Sul. As crescentes tensões regionais também serviram de cenário para a viagem do presidente dos EUA, Barack Obama, ao sudeste asiático logo após a sua reeleição.

Obama deu a conhecer o “pivô” estratégico dos Estados Unidos para a região Ásia-Pacífico, em Janeiro de 2012, e um turbilhão de actividades - da Austrália à Indonésia e à Índia - que marcou a diplomacia de segurança norte-americana ao longo do ano. Também no Japão, as preocupações em relação à determinação da China tornaram-se tão intensas que o governo que mostrou uma hostilidade considerável pela aliança entre os EUA e o Japão, quando subiu ao poder há três anos, em Novembro, começou a anunciar aos quatro ventos os compromissos de defesa mútua quando confrontou a reivindicação da China pelas ilhas Senkaku (Diaoyu).

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