News / Asia

South China Sea Dispute Flares at ASEAN Summit

U.S. President Barack Obama (back to camera) participates during the ASEAN Summit at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, November 19, 2012.
U.S. President Barack Obama (back to camera) participates during the ASEAN Summit at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, November 19, 2012.
Irwin Loy
Regional leaders at a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have again raised disagreements over the South China Sea.

ASEAN leaders have sought to maintain a unified public presence preparing for this summit, following divisive ministerial meetings in July.

They had largely avoided bickering publicly through the media, until a statement late Sunday from ASEAN chair, Cambodia.  

“The ASEAN leaders decided that they will not internationalize the South China Sea from now on," Cambodian foreign ministry official Kao Kim Hourn told reporters. "That they will focus this entirely within the current existing ASEAN-China mechanisms, which is at the level of the senior officials’, ministerial, and the leaders where they will continue to engage discussions on the South China Sea.”

By Monday, the Philippines had objected. Its delegation released a short statement saying it wished to maintain its “inherent right to defend its national interest when deemed necessary.” The Philippines was quick to add that it too is concerned about maintaining ASEAN unity.

But the incident was a reminder of July, when Cambodia was accused of backing China in the long-running maritime dispute by refusing Philippine demands to mention a set of disputed islands in a final official statement.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia, claim parts of the South China Sea, but it is the vast claims from regional power China, that has caused disagreements within ASEAN.

China is interested in negotiating a solution to the disputes with individual countries rather than the bloc. Any ASEAN consensus to not internationalize the issue, then, could be seen as playing into China's hands.

But there still remains a wide gap between ASEAN and China when it comes to beginning negotiations. ASEAN decided this week to push forward on a long-awaited Code of Conduct for involved parties. But China appears reluctant.

Qin Gang, a Chinese government spokesman, said, "It takes some time for, you know, for China and ASEAN to talk about, discuss [Code of Conduct] and this is not a wasting of time because during the discussion we can build up and accumulate more consensus and mutual trust to find more better ways to keep this region peaceful and stable.”

Either way, it appears likely the issue will be raised on an international stage as soon as Tuesday, during the East Asia Summit, a forum that includes countries beyond ASEAN's boundaries.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid