News / Asia

S. China Sea Disputes Figure Prominently at ASEAN Meeting

Territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Territorial claims in the South China Sea.
VOA News
Observers say territorial disputes in the South China Sea will likely be a main focus at an upcoming meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. But they expect progress to be slow on a long-delayed code of conduct between the regional bloc and China.

Disagreements over the maritime disputes, which pit China against several of its southeast Asian neighbors, prevented ASEAN from publishing a joint statement after a July summit in Cambodia for the first time in its history. The impasse was widely attributed to pressure from Beijing.

ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said last week "good signs" were emerging from ongoing talks between China and the regional bloc on how to draft a code of conduct to resolve the issue. Although he expects nothing will be finalized before the November 15 ASEAN and East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, he said he looks forward to what he called a "candid" discussion on the South China Sea at the meeting.

Ernie Bower, senior adviser and chair for Southeast Asia Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, agrees there is little chance a code of conduct will be signed at the November conference. But he said he expects China to take a less aggressive approach during the summit.

"I don't think they'll push Cambodia as hard," Bower said. "I think the Chinese have realized that their very aggressive approach to ASEAN, trying to manipulate Cambodia, to pull issues like the South China Sea out of the discussion is not going to be useful."

Many ASEAN members blame Cambodia, currently the bloc's chair, for giving in to Chinese pressure in July by rejecting a proposal to mention territorial disputes with Beijing in the proposed group statement.

Bower said all sides must realize that if ASEAN cannot discuss, or even mention, the most important regional security issues of the day, it will not have very much value as a regional body.

"The concept that we can't talk about, or we don't put on the record a discussion of the South China Sea -- that thinking is really outdated," said Bower. "This sort of [mindset] -- hide the important issue, don't talk about it -- that's not the way governance works in the modern world, and that's not the way the China-ASEAN relationship would prosper."

Carl Thayer, a specialist on Southeast Asian affairs at the University of New South Wales, said that Cambodia is more likely to be compelled to discuss South China Sea security because of the heavyweights attending the summit.

"I don't think that Cambodia's [Prime Minister] Hun Sen could stand up to a [President] Barack Obama or a Japanese prime minister if they insisted on discussing the South China Sea," said Thayer. "Earlier this year, I think the ASEAN foreign ministers were very respectful of the position of chair, they intervened in private, but let the matter go publicly. I don't think that would happen at the East Asia Summit."

But Thayer addded the United States and its regional allies will likely be cautious in confronting China over the issue.

"They do not want to raise the issue by putting China in the dock," he said. "They're really trying to encourage a process where force and intimidation isn't used, where the players get back on the same international law music sheet and try to apply that law to the dispute."

Thayer said it may be politically advantageous for China to make some progress on the maritime disputes in the near future. But he warned not much may be known about China's willingness to resolve the issue until the completion of a months-long leadership transition that begins this week in Beijing.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid