News / Asia

    Obama to Meet With ASEAN Leaders as Territorial Tensions Flare

    A man looks at photos showing the disputed island of Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China during Diaoyu Island dispute conference in Chungho, Taipei county, 11 Sep 2010
    A man looks at photos showing the disputed island of Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China during Diaoyu Island dispute conference in Chungho, Taipei county, 11 Sep 2010

    President Barack Obama and Southeast Asian leaders meet in New York Friday, September 24, as relations between East Asia's two big powers - China and Japan - are increasingly strained. Territorial disputes with China over uninhabited islands in the western Pacific are expected to dominate the discussions.

    South China Sea territorial claims

    President Obama and leaders from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations are expected to call for a peaceful solution to the South China Sea territorial dispute.

    The issue flared up earlier this year when China claimed the vital shipping lane as part of its core national interest. Last month, its navy planted a flag at the bottom of the South China Sea in a show of sovereignty.

    But the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also have claims on the South China Sea, and the uninhabited Spratly Island chain within it. In 1988, Vietnam and China fought deadly clashes there.

    The seabed around the islands is thought to be rich in resources such as oil and gas.

    This week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu warned ASEAN and the U.S. against issuing a statement on the region.

    Jiang says outside parties should not interfere with the dispute. She says the issue should not be internationalized because it will not solve the problem and would only make it complicated.

    Multilateral approach

    ASEAN has called for multilateral talks to settle South China Sea boundaries but Beijing rejects that idea.

    In July, U.S. Secretary State Hillary Clinton told ASEAN foreign ministers that Washington has an interest in keeping the waters open to all.

    Simon Tay, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, says Washington must raise its engagement with ASEAN, but not to isolate China.

    "Southeast Asians have shown they're quite concerned about what China is doing and how China will respond," said Tay. "The U.S.-ASEAN summit, if it is to be useful, will not be simply the U.S. trying to get ASEAN countries to get into the U.S. orbit again, wholly on their side, because Southeast Asian countries would be stupid to do that. But I think it will be a kind of strategic dialogue that can then triangulate with China and the rest of Asia."

    Chinese boat captain detained

    Friday's meeting comes as relations between China and Japan have deteriorated over a separate territorial dispute. Japan detained a Chinese boat captain earlier this month, after a collision between his boat and Japanese patrol boats near islands Beijing and Tokyo both claim.

    Beijing cut off government exchanges with Tokyo and Premier Wen Jiabao says Beijing will take further measures against Japan if the captain is not immediately released.

    Kitti Prasirtsuk, an associate dean of international relations at Thammasat University in Thailand, says the situation has implications for ASEAN.

    "The issue between Japan and China is not different from what's happening in the South China Sea," said Kitti. "I think the Chinese stance would definitely affect ASEAN sentiments…. It would even heighten the importance of the talks about the South China Sea."

    Kitti adds ASEAN would like U.S. involvement in the region but not to the extent that it jeopardizes ties with China, a top source of investments and trade.

    "China-ASEAN trade will grow anyway because our [economic] interdependence has been increasing over the past decade or so. ASEAN has to play a delicate game to get the U.S. involved so as to check China a bit as well," said Kitti.

    The meeting in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations' annual General Assembly will be the second between President Obama and ASEAN leaders.

    Fighting terrorism


    The talks also are expected to include security cooperation, especially in the fight against terrorism.

    Patricio Abinales is a Philippine scholar and a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. He expects more U.S. assistance to Thailand and the Philippines, focused on their southern regions, which have been wracked by Muslim insurgencies.

    "The U.S. will continue to be concerned about the way al-Qaida [and] Jemaah Islamiyah operate in the region," he said. "They've also realized the Islamic-related tensions in Southeast Asia, with the exception of Indonesia, are very indigenous and homegrown and so the aim there is to try to keep it at a low level, negotiate with local Islamic movements and assist the governments of Thailand and the Philippines deal with more extremist groups."

    The U.S. Agency on International Development started a five-year $30 million program in southern Thailand earlier this year, and has poured at least US$345 million into Mindanao in the Philippines since 2000.

    Friday's meeting will be Mr. Obama's first meeting with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, who took office in June.

    However, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will be absent. President Obama's visit to Indonesia, another ally in the war on terrorism, has been postponed three times this year. Jakarta says the president has previous commitments and will send Vice President Boediono instead.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.