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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid