News / Asia

Cambodia Says ASEAN Ministers Agree to 'Key Elements' of Sea Code

ASEAN countries' Foreign Ministers at the opening of the 45th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 9, 2012
ASEAN countries' Foreign Ministers at the opening of the 45th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 9, 2012
Cambodia says Southeast Asian foreign ministers have moved closer to agreement on guidelines for preventing territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

A Cambodian foreign ministry official said Monday top diplomats of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations made progress in drafting a maritime Code of Conduct, or COC, on the first day of an annual forum in Phnom Penh.

"They met and they adopted the key elements of the COC only among the member states, and from now on they will have to start assessments with China," said the official.

The official did not elaborate on the key elements of the Code of Conduct.
x

Six governments claim all or part of the South China Sea, with its vast fishing grounds and potential oil and gas deposits. The claimants include Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said Beijing is willing to discuss a Code of Conduct that builds mutual trust in the South China Sea when "conditions are ripe." But, the spokesman said such a document should not try to resolve maritime disputes between China and ASEAN as a whole. Beijing insists on negotiating with its neighbors bilaterally.

Regional tensions have risen recently, with Vietnam and the Philippines accusing China of aggressive behavior in the sea.

Last month, Vietnam protested China's decision to invite bids for South China Sea oil blocks. The Vietnamese National Assembly passed a law asserting that the areas are entirely within Vietnam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. China strongly criticized the law, saying it is illegal.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen opened the ASEAN forum by urging other members of the 10-nation bloc to transform a 2002 declaration on maritime disputes into a binding agreement.

"We should put emphasis on the implementation of the Declaration of Conduct, including the eventual conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea," he said.

Under the Declaration of Conduct signed in 2002, ASEAN and China called for free navigation in the South China Sea, settling disputes peacefully, and respecting international agreements, including the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. But, ASEAN has spent a decade trying to formalize the declaration into a code of conduct.

Kyoto University political scientist Pavin Chachavalpongpun said he does not expect this week's ASEAN forum to finalize an agreement.

"I think ASEAN still remains only a platform for talking, talking and talking, no action. I do not have a lot of hope, to be honest with you, on the upcoming ASEAN meetings," he said.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman gave a more upbeat assessment of progress after the first day of talks.

"I think we are coming to an agreement," he said. "It is a very fruitful discussion. It is not a deadlock. This is a discussion among all member countries, very smooth and every member state has rights to voice their opinion."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due to join her ASEAN counterparts at the forum on Wednesday. Speaking on Sunday in Tokyo, she said the United States will urge Southeast Asian governments to settle territorial disputes diplomatically and avoid conflict.

"We want to see all parties with claims - whether they are land or maritime claims - pursue them in accordance with international law, including as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention," she said.

The European Union and 161 countries have ratified the U.N. treaty that went into effect in 1994.  The pact governs how nations may use the world's oceans and the resources they contain. The United States is the only industrialized nation that has not signed the treaty.  

Irwin Loy, Chris Hannas and VOA Khmer Service's Kong Sothanarith contributed to this report.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

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