News / Asia

South China Sea Disputes to Top ASEAN Summit

Sniffer dogs and members of Burma's bomb squad rest after checking Myanmar International Convention Center, the venue for the 24th ASEAN Summit for explosives in Naypyitaw, Burma, May 9, 2014.
Sniffer dogs and members of Burma's bomb squad rest after checking Myanmar International Convention Center, the venue for the 24th ASEAN Summit for explosives in Naypyitaw, Burma, May 9, 2014.
Escalating tensions in the South China Sea are expected to be among the main points of discussion Saturday at the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Burma, also known as Myanmar.

Burma, which is hosting the summit for the first time, has tightened security in the capital of Naypyitaw as it prepares to welcome regional leaders beginning Saturday.

Presidential spokesman Ye Htut said Burma wants the summit to focus on reducing tensions through existing agreements.

"We have already had ASEAN's statement called 'Declaration on South China Sea.' We will try to discuss this issue peacefully and avoid using force," he said. "[Burma], as a member of the ASEAN, will continue to follow this rule."

China has been involved in ongoing maritime incidents with ASEAN members Vietnam and the Philippines.

Earlier this week, Manila arrested 11 Chinese fishermen for poaching in a disputed area near the Half Moon Shoal in the Spratly Islands. Philippines police dismissed China's demands to release the men.

Meanwhile, Chinese and Vietnamese ships collided this week in a dispute over Beijing's placement of an oil rig in disputed waters near the Paracel Islands.

Sino-Burmese analyst Hla Kyaw Zaw said the dispute with the Philippines will be the toughest due to the U.S. endorsement behind it.

"The problem with Philippines is more serious, I think, given that the U.S. president came and stood by the Philippines recently," Hla Kyaw Zaw said. "Most of the ASEAN countries, like Laos, Cambodia, Brunei and Malaysia, are mutually dependent with China, so I would say they may prefer bilateral solution as China suggested."

In Beijing Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying criticized the U.S. for its recent remarks about the on going disputes.

"It must be pointed out that the recent series of irresponsible and wrong comments from the United States which neglect the facts about the relevant waters have encouraged certain counties' dangerous and provocative behavior," she said.

The U.S. this week said the decision to move the oil rig to its current location is "provocative" and will further raise regional tensions.

Vietnam on Wednesday accused Chinese ships of intentionally and repeatedly ramming its vessels and injuring six Vietnamese sailors.

Duong Danh Dy, a former Vietnamese diplomat to China and an expert on Vietnam-China relations, told VOA's Vietnamese service Thursday that the current situation is extremely dangerous and Hanoi can no longer compromise.

"I think Vietnam is capable of dealing with China," he said. "Vietnam in recent years has updated its military equipment. Vietnam has its own way of dealing with the issue.  We defeated invaders from Chinese Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties in the past. China nowadays is not only violating our sovereignty, but at the same time also exploring our oil resources. If we step backward this time, they will push another step forward next time. We all know China very well.”

China has downplayed the incident. Speaking Thursday in Beijing, Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping declined to describe the incident as a "clash." He also said he is optimistic China can peacefully resolve the situation with Vietnam, which he called a "friendly" neighbor.

China claims nearly the entire South China Sea. Its claims overlap with those of Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Burmese service.

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Comment Sorting
by: Chay Xe Om from: Chicago
May 10, 2014 8:10 AM
This new "evil empire" in Asia must be contained as soon as possible. A strong defense alliance organization consists of small countries in the region will deter aggressive behaviors of this "evil empire" and maintain peace in the region. A "NATO" type of organization for Asia is the way to go.
In Response

by: Chay Xe Om
May 11, 2014 11:18 PM
Yes, "Commie viet and corrupt fino" will definitely; japan likely; malaysia, indonesia, new zealand and australia maybe?
In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
May 11, 2014 6:07 PM
Hum, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand are all China's friends. Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei also don't want to offend China.
So who gonna be in your NATO? Commie viet and corrupt fino? Give me a break!
In Response

by: My Ang from: US
May 11, 2014 2:57 PM
They can either do that - or they can pray gods to make the free rides, they are on, to last forever.
In Response

by: Taichi Robinhood
May 11, 2014 7:16 AM
That is an evil idea brought forward by an evil thought!

May 10, 2014 3:18 AM
China deliberately violated Vietnamese waters to test Vietnam's reaction and America's commitment to Asia as declared by Obama in his recent visit.It turned out to be all lies,since America is still too reluctant to flex its muscles in face of Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.Condemning China only wouldn't work for they have no respect for international laws any way.A display of force by deploying the 7th fleet in the area,is the best way to show the world that America is committed to safeguarding free navigation in the area.By standing back and watch China slowly and firmly secure their control over the oil rig area,America shows its weakness and untrustworthiness.You have let the Russians take over Crimea right under your nose,now you are not going to watch China do the same to the South China Sea,a vital sea route where more than 5000 billions worth of goods sail past every year.You must live up to your reputation as the world's number superpower by defending the weaker countries in the region or might as well pack your troops and go back to America and hand the defence of Asia to Japan,who knows exactly how to deal with the Chinese barbarians

by: An Nguyen from: Singapore
May 09, 2014 10:38 PM
China's culture is aggressive. They always desire to anex other country. The past time proved this statement.
Let's serve the Peace forever.

by: Samurai from: Japan
May 09, 2014 7:51 PM
All other countries in the world must not allow such a gangster country as China to conduct outlaw crimes; otherwise, world peace will disappear. If China claims that its the world's second economic power, it must pay money for natural resources. Invading other countries' territories and lobbing them of their properties will never be allowed and never attract other countries' respect and trust.
In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
May 11, 2014 6:11 PM
Keep worshiping WWII war criminals, and eating wild dolphins. Your end day is coming too!
In Response

by: Miky from: HK
May 10, 2014 4:54 AM
China will never do that what Japan done frequently in the past.

by: Adam9 from: Dong Nai
May 09, 2014 3:40 PM
A political and military alliance similar to NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) for this region (Asia or Asia Pacific) needs to be formed in order to counter the strong and overtly aggressive communist China.
In Response

by: Adam9
May 11, 2014 11:32 PM
lol,,, that would be like to turn the chicken coop over to a big bad wolf. yum, yum !!
In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
May 11, 2014 6:13 PM
If there will be such organization, it must be lead by An Asian super power, China. Like NATO is lead by America.

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