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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid