News / Asia

South China Sea Dispute High Priority for ASEAN

Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Surin Pitsuwan of Thailand delivers a keynote speech during the 17th International Conference on The Future of Asia in Tokyo, May 26, 2011.
Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Surin Pitsuwan of Thailand delivers a keynote speech during the 17th International Conference on The Future of Asia in Tokyo, May 26, 2011.
Brian Padden

Foreign ministers and other officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are meeting this week in Bali where they are expected to focus on the dispute between China and some ASEAN members about rights to vast oil and gas reserves in the South China sea.

ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan says this week the organization will take another step forward in becoming an integrated community that will speak with one voice on security issues.

“That is one feature of a community that is being able to come up with common positions on various issues that the global community has been facing and certainly immediately for us, making sure that the region is at peace, is stable and secure,” says Surin.

ASEAN is holding a series of high-level meetings in Bali, Indonesia this week including the ASEAN Regional Forum that will focus on security issues.

In addition to foreign ministers from ASEAN members states, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and representatives from China, Russia, Japan, the EU and other nations will also participate.

Surin says addressing the dispute among China, Taiwan and ASEAN member states Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam about competing claims to large reserves of oil and gas in the South China Sea will be a high priority for ASEAN.

“One united stand of ASEAN is that all of us have a common desire to see the region, including the South China Sea, being managed peacefully," he says. "And we can together work out our differences, and that ASEAN and China could send that positive signal to the international committee because all of them are concerned, all of them are anxious about the situation there.”

Surin says ASEAN's role in facilitating a resolution process should not conflict with China's demand that this issue be resolved at the bilateral level.

Resolving disputes between member states and promoting democracy and human rights will also be addressed, he says.

Earlier this year ASEAN Chairman and Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa took on a high profile mediator role to try to negotiate an end to a border conflict between Thailand and Cambodia. Natalegawa ultimately failed to get the two sides to resolve the dispute but Surin says the decisive election of Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra could reinvigorate the peace process.

At the last ASEAN meeting in May human rights groups complained about ASEAN's decision to allow Burma to head the organization in 2014, despite Burma's widespread restrictions on opposition parties, detention of political activists and severe limits on basic freedoms.

ASEAN officials have been reluctant to criticize Malaysian authorities for recently using tear gas and water cannons to disperse thousands of peaceful protesters. Pitsuwan says ASEAN will continue to rely on positive engagement rather than punitive enforcement to encourage its members to embrace democratic reform.

“Now what is going on in Malaysia is certainly within that trend of increasing participation of our people in the political process and I think this is very much to be expected," says Surin. "But each country has to handle the challenges on its own, differently, and we do hope that it will be peaceful, that it will be productive and constructive.”

Surin also says ASEAN is resuming talks with the five nuclear-weapon states to ratify a 1995 treaty that would make Southeast Asia a nuclear weapons free zone.

If ratified the treaty could bar nuclear warships from docking in Southeast Asia. Surin says China has expressed a willingness to sign the treaty and that ASEAN officials will begin discussions with the United States, Russia and other nuclear powers.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs