News / Asia

ASEAN Summit: Philippines Upbeat on Steps to Resolve Sea Dispute

Philippine President Benigno Aquino (R) chats to Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario (L) during the 9th Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), Apr. 25, 2013.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino (R) chats to Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario (L) during the 9th Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), Apr. 25, 2013.
Simone Orendain
— Senior officials from the Philippines say they came away from this week’s summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Brunei with a favorable outlook on the group’s steps to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea. 

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the South China Sea was a “major topic” at the 10-country gathering.  

Del Rosario recounted to reporters in Manila Friday that coming up with a binding Code of Conduct on handling the competing claims with China was a recurring theme.

“As far as the presence of the 10-member states, I got the impression, a very distinct, good, positive, impression that we were solid, there was solidarity in terms of readiness to convince China that we should move on with the COC,” Rosario said.

This was a contrast to last July, when for the first time, the group did not release a joint statement because of disagreement over how to deal with disputes in the South China Sea.  At the time, the Philippines had just negotiated a tense confrontation with China over a shoal that the Philippines says is part of its territory.

China and Taiwan claim practically the entire sea.  The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have partial claims to it.  The waters have some of the most heavily traveled shipping lanes, are important to fishermen and have potentially huge hydrocarbon reserves.

In 2002, ASEAN and China signed a non-binding agreement to manage the disputes through peaceful means.  But they have been unable to reach agreement on a legally binding Code of Conduct.

In January, Philippine authorities took the territorial dispute to an international tribunal under the U.N. convention on the Law of the Sea. On Friday, China’s foreign ministry repeated that it would never give up its claims and looks forward to resolving the disputes through negotiations.

The summit this week was the first major ASEAN gathering for this year’s host nation Brunei.

Immediately following the summit Thursday ASEAN chair Brunei Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah noted to reporters the improvement over the last time the group talked about the issue.  

"We have had a good discussion among leaders and there has been some progress since last year, we have agreed on what I see as a two-step approach," he noted. "Firstly, the overlapping claims are for the claimant states to deal with. Secondly, both ASEAN and China wish to promote a calm and peaceful atmosphere and to urgently work on the code of conduct."

China has consistently expressed a preference for dealing with the territorial squabbles one-on-one.  The Philippines and some other ASEAN countries have sought to make it an international issue.

Later this year, Beijing is hosting a senior foreign ministers’ meeting with ASEAN members.  Del Rosario said member-state Thailand this week proposed a pre-meeting gathering among ASEAN foreign ministers to reinforce their solidarity on the issue before they talk to China.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Andy from: USA
April 27, 2013 2:38 AM
Why is China always the problem?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid