The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will hold joint military exercises in the South China Sea in September, marking the first time the organization has taken such action against China’s hegemonic ambitions. The exercises were announced by Indonesia, the rotating president country of ASEAN, on June 8. The drills will involve all 10 ASEAN member nations and will also include the observer country East Timor. The purpose of the exercises is to strengthen ASEAN’s unity and address the high risk of disasters in Southeast Asia. This move by ASEAN reflects a shift in its attitude towards China’s aggressive actions in the region. The exercises will take place in the North Natuna Sea, a disputed area that Indonesia claims as its exclusive economic zone. The location was carefully selected to avoid provoking China, as there is no dispute over the sovereignty of the area. ASEAN’s decision to conduct joint military exercises demonstrates its determination to defend its sovereignty in the South China Sea. In recent years, ASEAN has also strengthened its military partnerships with the United States and India. These partnerships will help ASEAN countries exert their military influence in the Indo-Pacific region. China has been increasing its interactions with neighboring countries and organizing military working groups and visits to showcase its global expansion strategy, the Belt and Road Initiative. However, tensions between China and other Southeast Asian nations have been escalating, as China continues to assert its claims over the South China Sea. The CCP’s aggressive behavior has prompted ASEAN countries, including the Philippines and Indonesia, to enhance their military capabilities and seek support from the United States. ASEAN was established in 1967 with the aim of preventing the expansion of communist forces in the region. The organization has faced violence and harassment from armed communist groups supported by China in the past. The CCP views ASEAN as anti-communist, and the two have had a strained relationship.