News / Asia

Asia Leaders to Discuss Cooperation, Rights, and Disputes With China

Cambodian government security forces walk in front of the Council of Ministers building as they patrol along a street ahead of the 21st ASEAN Summit and other related summits in Phnom Penh, November 13, 2012.
Cambodian government security forces walk in front of the Council of Ministers building as they patrol along a street ahead of the 21st ASEAN Summit and other related summits in Phnom Penh, November 13, 2012.
Daniel Schearf
Leaders in Asia will be gathering in Cambodia later this month (Nov 18-20) for a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Territorial tensions between ASEAN members and China marred a summit in July, adding pressure to the meeting as President Obama is set to make a historic visit.

The last regional meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations was considered a disappointment after the group failed, for the first time, to issue a joint statement.  
 
Many blamed China, saying it influenced Phnom Penh to block a statement that included concerns by Vietnam and the Philippines over South China Sea territorial disputes.
 
With President Obama expected at the ASEAN East Asia Summit, Ernie Bower, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, says the gathering is an opportunity for Cambodia to pursue a more balanced foreign policy.
 
"This balance doesn’t mean balancing the United States and China," said Bower. "But it means working with all players and a recognition that ASEAN is very important. I don’t think that recognition came thru in July. So Cambodia has an opportunity - [Cambodian leader] Hun Sen has an opportunity - in November to make that point.”
 
China has stepped-up aggressive claims to island territory in the South China Sea, raising international concerns including from the United States.
 
ASEAN has been trying to negotiate a code of conduct with China to prevent conflicts.
 
But Beijing prefers to deal with ASEAN members one-on-one rather than as a group.
 
"The setback in July is a serious one because this means that there is more pressure now in November at the East Asia Summit and the sideline meetings to have a code of conduct," said Thitinan Pongsudhirak is Director of Bangkok's Institute of Security and International Studies. "So, some drama is in store because China will apply a lot of pressure. Remember that China has some domestic concerns now, they're going through a leadership transition. It's not a good time for the Chinese leadership to appear weak."
 
President Obama is being urged to push ASEAN on human rights concerns.
 
But the bloc is only expected to adopt a watered-down regional declaration of human rights at the summit.
 
Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director for Human Rights Watch, says the declaration is a far cry from international standards.
 
"The general principles set out a series of exemptions or loopholes based on local context, based on balancing of rights with responsibilities, based on national security or internal stability, that would limit rights in a way that the international standards do not limit rights," he said.

Robertson says President Obama should also raise Cambodia's deteriorating human rights situation when he meets with Prime Minister Hun Sen.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid