News / Asia

ASEAN Leaders React to Planned US Marine Base in Australia

The leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations attend the regional bloc's summit in Bali, November 17, 2011.
The leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations attend the regional bloc's summit in Bali, November 17, 2011.

The announcement by President Barack Obama that he plans to station U.S. troops in Australia is drawing mixed reactions at the ASEAN Summit in Indonesia, where ongoing territorial conflicts in the South China Sea are a major issue. 

Philippine Secretary of Communications Ricky Carandang welcomed the news that the United States will station 2,500 military personnel in its Australia's Northern Territory over the next few years.

“If you are asking me in general how I view the increased engagement of the U.S. in Australia and the region, we view the presence of the Americans here, the renewed engagement of the U.S. here as ultimately a stabilizing force,” Carandang said.

The Philippines has long supported an increased U.S. military presence to counterbalance China's growing military strength and increasing confrontations in disputed territory of the South China Sea.

China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei hold conflicting territorial claims on the region, which is strategic to world shipping and believed to hold huge oil and gas reserves.


  • Members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Invited countries: the United States, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia and South Korea.

  • South China Sea Dispute: Claimed in its entirety by China and in part by several ASEAN members. ASEAN members have accused China of intimidating their vessels in the sea. China has agreed to help draft a code of conduct. 
    Burma takes over ASEAN chairmanship in 2014. But rights groups and some governments first want more reform in Burma.

  • ASEAN Community:
  • Member countries pushing for an EU-style community by 2015.No agreement on the pace for creating a common market or currency.

ASEAN Chairman and Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said Indonesia does not want to see Southeast Asia be subject to a damaging competition between the big countries, adding that idealism will only get them so far.

Natalegawa also said he would like to develop a military code of conduct, in line with ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, or TAC, which calls for mutual respect and the non-interference in the internal affairs of other members.  

“For example it will involve the renunciation of the use of force the primacy of peaceful settlements of disputes, precisely the kind of TAC-like kind of norms that have been governing relations among ASEAN.”

Hariyadi Wirawan, a professor of international relations at the University of Indonesia, says the news could lead to increased tension between the United States and China at the East Asia Summit and could hamper efforts by ASEAN leaders to craft a code of conduct with China to peacefully resolve disputes.

“The whole idea of creating this new arrangement of security is in itself, can be seen also as a provocation to China and will expect a kind of harsh response from China, from Beijing,” Wirawan said.

Chinese officials Wednesday questioned whether the troop deployments are in the best interests of the countries in the region.  In Beijing Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin gave a more measured response when asked about the U.S.-Australia military ties.

In regards to the relationships developed between other nations, China does not interfere, he said.

But he added China hopes that other countries in developing relations between each other take into consideration other countries, regional interests and the region's peace and stability.

You May Like

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Tattoos, hookah bars and doughnuts? Google Maps lays out what people really have on their minds during the holiday

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs