News / Asia

ASEAN Leader to Push Consensus on South China Sea Disputes

Vietnam's Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Luong Minh is seen after the ASEAN flag raising ceremony in Hanoi, August 8, 2012.
Vietnam's Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Luong Minh is seen after the ASEAN flag raising ceremony in Hanoi, August 8, 2012.
Daniel Schearf
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has appointed its first secretary-general from Vietnam, a one-party communist state and one of four ASEAN members in conflict with China over territory in the South China Sea.  ASEAN has struggled over the past year to form a consensus on the issue and having a leader from Vietnam will keep the spotlight on the dispute.  But political analysts say Vietnamese leadership will also be more reserved and cautious in seeking agreement on the issue.  

Le Luong Minh Tuesday officially takes over the rotating  position of ASEAN secretary-general from Thailand's Surin Pitsuwan.   

The veteran diplomat comes from Vietnam's Foreign Ministry and served as ambassador to the United Nations.

His leadership of ASEAN, the first by Vietnam, comes at a time of tensions with an increasingly assertive Beijing over disputed territory in the South China Sea.

China claims almost all of the sea, believed to be rich in oil, gas and fish.  ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims over the waters.

The conflict has led to tense maritime stand-offs, arrests of fishermen, and heated rhetoric over sovereignty.

ASEAN summits this past year in Cambodia failed to negotiate a long-delayed code of conduct to prevent escalation.

Political analysts say China's influence on Cambodia and other non-claimants to the territory was to blame.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun is a professor of Southeast Asian studies at Kyoto University.  Speaking via Skype, he says a secretary-general from Vietnam will be more active in pushing for ASEAN consensus on the issue.

"You know, it can also achieve its own national interest if this were to be discussed within ASEAN.  And, secondly, you know, Vietnam can claim that it support the ASEAN approach in trying to deal with an issue like this," he says. "You know, in trying to prove that dispute settlement mechanism in ASEAN has been working.  So, I think it could be a win-win situation."

Outgoing Thai Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan was well-regarded for his engaging and outspoken leadership in ASEAN.

Political analysts say Vietnamese style will be less public and transparent with its efforts.  But, in dealing with China, more subtlety might help.

Beijing is going through a once-every-decade leadership transition until March that observers are watching carefully.

Carl Thayer is professor of politics at the Australian Defense Force Academy.  He says a period of quiet diplomacy between ASEAN and China is most likely and most needed.

"This is not a time to go full steam ahead because of Chinese attitudes and the leadership transition…  Xi Jinping may be the General Secretary but he's not yet assumed the Presidency…So, between now and then is not to challenge China and entrench it, but to wait out this period and then to see if a new leader and a new team in Beijing can be dealt with by ASEAN," explained Thayer. "So, it's low profile on the South China Sea, not putting it away."

Thayer says China should be reassured by the less public diplomacy style of its neighbor, which should compliment this year's ASEAN chair - the Sultan of Brunei.

Chachavalpongpun says it is in Beijing's interest to tone down the tensions as well.

"You know, China also need ASEAN too in terms of its own economic development.  How can China further improve economy, further, how to say, strengthen its economic growth in an environment that is hostile to China itself," he stated. " I think China will need to look into building up or encouraging a more peaceful environment for China's own benefit."

Beijing may also welcome the irony of Vietnam, as a fellow communist one-party state, taking over as secretary of ASEAN.

The Southeast Asian group was formed in 1967 in solidarity against communism but expanded its membership to become a more inclusive regional political and economic body.

ASEAN founders Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand have each held the secretary-general post at least twice.

The other ASEAN members are Burma and Laos.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: mhee from: Philippines
January 02, 2013 2:24 AM
It is a must for the ASEAN countries to unite in order to win their territorial claim.as the saying goes, "United we stand divided we fall"


by: Veritas
January 01, 2013 7:15 PM
Professional squatters usually work in syndicate. Using fake titles and maps they grab large tracts of land and waterways from real owners. For semblance of possession they build fences and passageways, workplaces and shelters. They refuse appeals to prove their rights in court, for they know they would lose against the true owners. Instead they employ armed bands to enforce their land-grab, and publicists to distort the truth. Respecting no one, they flout the law and public outrage. They delay inevitable eviction with blarney or harassment. Meantime, they profit from the illegal takeover, by directly exploiting resources or by subletting.

There are a billion squatters worldwide, mostly penurious and landless, and only a handful of land-grab syndicates. The biggest of the latter is China’s dictatorial party.

China uses baseless ancient rights and maps to lay claim to the entire South China Sea and scores of islets, shoals, and reefs. Such claim goes against geologic science and international law, particularly freedom of navigation. But China is unperturbed. It also ignores verified historical accounts and maps, particularly of Vietnam and the Philippines, about the Paracel and the Spratly archipelagoes and landforms abutting their shores. It flouts the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, even if it is a signatory, by disrespecting the 200-mile exclusive economic zones of the two countries, and of Malaysia and Brunei.

China has built military facilities in three of the islets and reefs, feigning at first to be doing so for fishermen of all nations. In pretense of true ownership, its navy patrols the seawaters, as if that would make genuine its unfounded nine-dash line map. Recently it clashed with Vietnamese sailors in the Paracels, and harassed Filipino marine surveyors and fishermen in the Recto Bank and Panatag Shoal.

The Philippines has challenged China to settle the claim once and for all before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. But China refuses. It knows it has no chance of winning. That’s why it uses instead armed might and guile, including putting up traitorous public officials and pseudo-journalists as spokesmen. Because the Philippines refuses to be cowered or fooled, China also employs trade and tourism embargoes. It plays deaf to world opinion about its undiplomatic breaks of UN pacts, and mobilizes vassal states to thwart those that stand up to it.

China chatters about a supposed peaceful economic rise and joint use of the disputed area. But all that aims only to avoid peaceful resolution. One cannot expect peace from an avaricious bully-squatter whose real intent is to build an invisible Great Wall across the Pacific Ocean.

Like a true professional squatter, China is ravaging the sea like there’s no tomorrow. Fake owners think not of conserving resources in the grabbed territory. China scours the sea of marine life, even endangered species, for food and ornaments. It is slurping petroleum from offshore wells close to Vietnam, and has leased out parts of these to privateers. Nonstop too is the search for undersea minerals and rare-earth metals.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid