News / Asia

South China Sea High on ASEAN Agenda

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at the opening of the 45th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 9, 2012.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at the opening of the 45th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 9, 2012.
Irwin Loy
PHNOM PENH — Senior Southeast Asian officials are pursuing a long-term solution to competing claims for the South China Sea this week.  Analysts say the effort marks a key step if countries in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations want to resolve the territorial impasse in the near future.  However, many roadblocks remain.

When Cambodia hosted the ASEAN leaders' summit in April, it was accused of attempting to quash discussions on the South China Sea.

It may be a sign of the urgency that ASEAN officials now feel on the issue that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen opened this week's ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting Monday by stressing the need for a a consensus on how to resolve the territorial dispute.

"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," said the prime minister.

x
ASEAN members Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia all claim territory in the South China Sea. That puts them up against powerhouse China, which has claimed essentially all of the body of water.

China and Asean signed a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea a decade ago - essentially agreeing they must resolve the situation peacefully. But it has taken this long to come to terms on how to proceed to the next stage - crafting a code of conduct which would guide the parties as the issue moves forward.

Carlyle Thayer, an specialist on ASEAN affairs with at the University of New South Wales, says this week is make or break time for ASEAN countries on the issue.

"So it's unknown at this particular time where ASEAN is going on this. It may well be in the compromise it includes items that are impossible to negotiate with China and it will be dropped or watered down in the long run so the make or break time is one," said Thayer.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a political scientist based at Kyoto University, says the week's high-level meetings provide a necessary platform for the countries to discuss the issue. But he is not optimistic there will be much progress.

"But 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.

Although it has dominated media coverage leading up to this week's meetings, the South China Sea is only one of many issues on the agenda.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to attend the sessions. Analysts expect Clinton to downplay the United States' recently announced military shift toward Asia, in the hope easing perceived tensions with China in its backyard.

"Her point here is to move away from that and re-deflect attention to the much broader interests she'll argue the U.S. has in the region,and that the U.S. is not out to contain, but to cooperate with China," said Carlyle Thayer.

This week's meetings are schedule to conclude Friday.

You May Like

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Video One Year After Massacre, Iraq’s Yazidis a Broken People

Minority community still recovering from devastating assault by IS militants which spurred massive outrage More

‘Malvertisements’ Undermine Internet Trust

Hackers increasingly prey on users' trust of major websites to delivery malicious software More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: jp from: cebu
July 10, 2012 9:29 PM
ASEAN plays no vital role in terms of security throughout the region. i suggest all claimants must withdraw from being a member of ASEAN and create a new union body to raise the issue to UN

by: Anonymous
July 09, 2012 1:55 PM
China wants to gain some water territory illegally, unfairly while the others refuse to give up, not even an inch. It is a perfect storm for a war between Chinese robberers and ASEAN defenders.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs