News / USA

    Obama-ASEAN Talks Focus on South China Sea Tensions

    U.S. President Barack Obama hosts a meeting with leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during a summit held at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California, Feb. 16, 2016.
    U.S. President Barack Obama hosts a meeting with leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during a summit held at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California, Feb. 16, 2016.
    Mary Alice Salinas

    U.S. President Barack Obama has called for "tangible steps" to lower tensions over ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

    On the concluding day of talks with Southeast Asia leaders at a security and economic summit in California, Obama said the leaders affirmed that disputes should be resolved peacefully and through legal means.

    "The United States and ASEAN are reaffirming our strong commitment to a regional order where international rules and norms and the rights of all nations, large and small, are upheld," Obama said.

    He also called for a halt to further land reclamation, a reference to Beijing's massive effort to assert its claims over disputed territory through new construction and island-building.  

    The Sunnylands meeting was aimed at boosting entrepreneurship and innovation to attract trade and investment. Obama said there is strong support among ASEAN nations for improving the rule of law and the protection of intellectual property, and investing in education.

    However, he also called for a return to civilian rule in Thailand, and said the United States would continue to stand with people across Southeast Asia who work to uphold the rule of law and improve human rights.​

    WATCH: Related video report

    Obama Seeks to Solidify America as Leader in SE Asiai
    X
    February 16, 2016 1:57 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama hosts the leaders of all 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at a historic two-day summit in California.

    Obama is seeking to develop a leadership role with ASEAN, which the White House sees as key to the U.S. rebalance to the Asia Pacific. The strategic shift toward the region is critical to America’s further security and economic prosperity and a vital counterbalance to China’s influence, the White House has said.

    The ASEAN nations include Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. The dynamic and diverse region is experiencing robust growth and rising tensions, potentially affecting the global economy and security.

    North Korea

    The U.S. and ASEAN leaders are also addressing what role China can play in pressuring North Korea to end “provocative” actions, including Pyongyang’s recent rocket launch.

    While China and the U.S. have disagreed on North Korea, the United States sees a common interest with China in ensuring the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

    FILE - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts as he watches a long range rocket launch in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, Feb. 7, 2016.
    FILE - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts as he watches a long range rocket launch in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, Feb. 7, 2016.

    Young, rich region

    The 10 ASEAN members comprise the third-largest economy in Asia, and the seventh-largest in the world, with a combined GDP of $2.4 trillion. More than 65 percent of its 632 million people are younger than the age of 35.

    Trade between the United States and ASEAN countries has increased by 55 percent in seven years, according to the White House.

    Southeast Asia is now America’s fourth-largest goods trading partner, said the president, including U.S. exports that sustain more than 500,000 U.S. jobs. And he credited investment by U.S. companies in ASEAN for the region’s growing middle class.

    WATCH: ASEAN meeting opens amid protests

    ASEAN Summit Draws Strong Protestsi
    X
    February 16, 2016 5:39 AM
    President Barack Obama welcomed Southeast Asian leaders to the Sunnylands estate in California Monday for a two-day summit on trade and security issues. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the meeting drew hundreds of protesters who say they want an end to human rights abuses in the region.

     

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: suny from: eu
    February 17, 2016 10:39 AM
    More than 90 people died and over 2,000 people were injured during the military crackdown on red shirt protesters. Chokchai Angkaew, a lawyer representing families of victims of the 2010 crackdown, vowed that he will appeal the ruling and collect additional evidence on the case, saying that being a PM or Deputy PM does not mean that one can authorise murder.

    Human Rights Watch’s May 2011 report, Descent into Chaos: Thailand’s 2010 Red Shirt Protests and the Government Crackdown, documented that excessive and unnecessary force by the military caused many deaths and injuries during the 2010 political confrontations.

    by: Elias Thema
    February 16, 2016 11:43 PM
    Middle east is burning, but Obama the fire sticker is opening another front of confrontations in eastern Asia. You may think this is business ventures where the marketing agents are always looking for business opportunities. Instead of concentrating to the real problems at middle eastern suffering, he is looking for another war front.

    by: Anonymous
    February 16, 2016 10:13 PM
    Obama is smartly saving resources from being wasted in the Middle East (including Syria) to focus on East Asia.

    by: Cherry from: Philippines
    February 16, 2016 5:11 PM
    I hate to admit it but the truth is CHINA is the most powerful and richest nation in the world right now. ASEAN members like my country are asking the help of US. Well, I don't think US will help us, as you can see CHINA lent UNITED NATIONS AND USA billion of dollars last 2013. AMERICANS especially HOLLYWOOD MOVIE MAKERS need CHINA so much because this is the BIGGEST MARKET IN THE WORLD.

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    February 16, 2016 2:44 PM
    There is only one goal for ASEAN and that is to put a stake through the black heart of China's government. It seems to me all they have to do is sit back and wait awhile longer. China's Communist despots are doing a fine job of it without any outside help at all. Why doesn't the US fly planes over those fake islands day and night while warships sail circles around them? China wouldn't dare attack the US no matter how we humiliate them.

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