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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid