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that we can't talk about, or we don't put on the record a discussion of the South China Sea -- that thinking is really outdated," said Bower.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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid