News / Asia

ASEAN Talks Focus on S. China Sea Disputes

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, listens to Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, right, during their meeting at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 12, 2012.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, listens to Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, right, during their meeting at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 12, 2012.
Irwin Loy
PHNOM PENH — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined senior South East Asian officials for high-level discussions in Cambodia Thursday. Ministers attending the Association of South East Asian Nations’ meetings have sought to downplay friction between member states and China all week. Yet, behind the scenes, simmering tensions from maritime disputes continue to contrast with the ministers’ public assurances of mutual cooperation.

Coming into this week’s meetings, analysts predicted tensions about the South China Sea would form a major part of discussions here. That dispute puts four ASEAN nations with competing territorial claims up against China, which claims most of the body of water.

But this week saw more controversies emerge, beyond ASEAN’s boundaries. Japan announced it had launched a formal protest with China, after Chinese vessels approached the Senkaku Islands, a set of remote islands claimed by both countries.

Both Japan and China are dialogue partners-not full members of ASEAN. But the issue still came up during bilateral discussions this week.

"In light of the historical facts and on the basis of historical law, there is no doubt that the Senkaku islands are an ancient territory of Japan. Furthermore, Japan has maintained valid control over the islands,” said Naoko Saiki, spokeswoman for Japan’s foreign minister.

In a statement this week, the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh confirmed that Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met with Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba on the sidelines of the ASEAN meetings. The statement says Yang stressed that the Diaoyu Islands, as they are known in China, “have always been China’s territory since ancient times, over which China has indisputable sovereignty.”

Publicly, of course, both countries have said they will not let the dispute cloud their relations.

But for the Philippines, an ASEAN member that has tried to advance South China Sea discussions all week, it is another worrisome maritime controversy involving China. On Wednesday, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario drew a parallel between the Senkaku controversy and China’s role in the South China Sea dispute.

“It looks like they’re becoming more aggressive every day,” Del Rosario said.

This week’s ASEAN meetings are to conclude Friday.

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by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
July 12, 2012 11:34 PM
its only fair that you report the Taiwan warship escorted Chinese "bao diao" ship to Diaoyutai islands.
And you should also mention Taiwan also claim the all south China sea.
Isn't it a strong prove that South China sea and diaoyu island belong to Chinese? Do you mean DEMOCRATIC Taiwan is also aggressive?


by: Ulchi from: US
July 12, 2012 2:40 PM
The meeting is over. They achieved nothing . South China Sea remains choatic situation. ASEAN failed to unite and lost a huge batle on table. Now, we all can expect China to be even more aggrasive in their pirating acts throug out the region.

In Response

by: Zafar from: Melbourne
July 12, 2012 7:28 PM
I think China achived a lot after the meeting.. atleast the proved the area as disputed which neither belong to them or have any legal claim.. now atleast its disputed to start with.. whatever they get even 10% from it its worth it.. China has done that to every country around its neighhor ... invaded Tibet, Xinjiang and inner mongolia and have eyes for Taiwan, taken north of Indian terrority and part of pakistan and looking to get piece of japan, NKorea and Vietnam...


by: Anonymous
July 12, 2012 10:48 AM
Pacific Rim Nations must respect the international water way. Remember one of these day the Ring of Fire may back fire at all the members with the havoc from the wrath of mother nature. Don't come and ask for thy neighbors helps.


by: Zafar from: Australia
July 12, 2012 9:21 AM
Atleast chinese created a dispute of land and sea which does not belong to them.. soon or later they will invade just like they did on Tibet and claim the terrority using its arms...
The communist party works in similar way, it goes stating its disputed.. makes it international issue and terms as disputed for lands which are not their own and then demands claim worst to worst some share for land for those deemed disputed terrority..
what is these communist doing? trying to recrate the maps of 1800???

In Response

by: HP from: OZ
July 12, 2012 12:35 PM
"China has tons of proofs to prove these terrority belongs to China" comes from China Officials and Chinese media. I read some articles on Wiki, China invaded countries to the south of its main land and put names some areas and islands. Now China claims those islands and sea areas. That claims has no legal foundations. You may read from some media outside China.
China even claims resources inside Vietnam Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). As I remember from Vietnam War, US warships and air fighters patrolled the south china sea (including the EEZ of Vietnam and Spratly islands). China did not ask US to leave the area but China claims it now. China dares to call it historical solid proof.

In Response

by: Anonymous
July 12, 2012 10:37 AM
"Chinese created a dispute of land and sea which does not belong to them" --- What's your proof to prove that those disputed terrority don't belong to China? On the contrary, China has tons of proofs to prove these terrority belongs to China. Please think by your brain first before you make any comment.


by: Nguyễn from: US
July 12, 2012 9:21 AM
Military power in Asia is still imbalanced between China and the rest of its neighbours. Stability won't be restored until US has stronger presence in the region to balance the power. South China Sea may some day become a new Asian killingfield with barbarous China do the killings.

In Response

by: Maxillin from: NIgeria
July 12, 2012 11:34 AM
Yeah, Anonymous China guy.
" US has never been fair to China about the disputed territories because they think China will be the potential biggest competitor who will challenge US as a leader of the whole world" China of all countries? There are many of China out their and none still have no political/military might USA has.

Is China as powerful as India ? Is China even competing with Russia ? Russia is not even competing with USA talkless of baby super power.
You have forgotten sleeping giant Japan. You both have money and market. Its only that Japan is peaceful for now. When America gives Japan military a go, China will be shilvering in fear.
And the last thing China will do right now is to provoke Japanse into arm race. It will be ugly for China. There are many competitions for China already. USA is out of her league

In Response

by: Anonymous
July 12, 2012 10:44 AM
"US has stronger presence in the region" --- but the problem is that US has never been fair to China about the disputed territories because they think China will be the potential biggest competitor who will challenge US as a leader of the whole world and will stop US attacking more and more small countries with all kinds of excuses.

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