News / Asia

US Urges Calm in Sea Disputes During SE Asia Summit

US Urges Calm in Sea Disputes During SE Asia Summiti
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Barry Newhouse
August 11, 2014 6:44 PM
Senior diplomats from Southeast Asian nations, China and the United States wrapped up talks in Myanmar's capital Sunday with a statement urging all sides to avoid confrontations in the South China Sea. Overlapping ownership claims in the oil- and gas-rich sea continue to be a major regional flashpoint, but efforts by the U.S. and Philippines to temporarily halt all so-called “provocative acts” such as oil drilling, failed to attract broad support. Barry Newhouse reports from Bangkok

US Urges Calm in Sea Disputes During SE Asia Summit

Barry Newhouse

Senior diplomats from Southeast Asian nations, China and the United States wrapped up talks in Myanmar's capital Sunday with a statement urging all sides to avoid confrontations in the South China Sea.

Overlapping ownership claims in the oil- and gas-rich sea continue to be a major regional flashpoint, but efforts by the U.S. and Philippines to temporarily halt all so-called “provocative acts” such as oil drilling, failed to attract broad support.

The gathering in Myanmar's capital city Naypyidaw marks another milestone for the country's political opening, as it plays host to this year's major meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian nations.

But just like recent ASEAN gatherings, the bloc's key issue: how to address maritime territorial disputes in the South China Sea remains unresolved, says Myanmar's foreign minister.

"It is not that one party is trying to influence others, the others against the one country," he said. "All ASEAN, not ASEAN versus China. This is what we call it the ASEAN...we would like to settle all these kind of disputes in a very peaceful manner."

The emphasis on diplomacy comes after months of sometimes violent territorial confrontations.

In May, China moved an oil rig to waters near the Paracel islands, which Vietnam also claims. The move sparked a violent backlash against Chinese businesses in Vietnam. Chinese land reclamation efforts near islets claimed by the Philippines also set off alarms in Manila.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he remains hopeful the matter can be resolved without hostilities.

“We all underscored the importance of negotiations on a binding code of conduct," he said. "And I stressed the importance of everybody clarifying claims under international law and proceeding under the legal process through the law, through arbitration, and also through bilateral relationships.”

Efforts to agree on a binding code of conduct have faltered for more than a decade, partly because of Chinese opposition. The lack of progress has led some countries such as the Philippines to try other legal venues to determine ownership.

ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh tells VOA that because of the growing tensions, negotiators must find a peaceful breakthrough.

“It is urgent, it is important now that ASEAN can engage China and can intensify... these consultations, these negotiations, towards the early conclusion and adoption of a code of conduct,” he said.

Chinese state-backed media Monday played up the failure of the U.S. proposal to freeze provocative acts in disputed parts of the Sea, claiming Washington uses the issue to meddle in the region.

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by: delmonte from: USA
August 11, 2014 11:18 PM
Nobody paid a heel to what Kerry said as they knew that he was just lying with Obama's lies.


by: Frankie Fook-lun Leung from: Los Angeles
August 11, 2014 10:39 PM
In this kind of conferences, what is not said is more important than what is said. America might have told the ASEAN countries in closed doors, although America has returned its attention to the Pacific, there are more immediate crises which warrant America's urgent attention, such as Ukraine and the Middle East. You Asian boys don't make trouble because Uncle Sam may not have the time or resources to deal with you.


by: Brent_Bowles from: USA
August 11, 2014 9:11 PM
This Asean meeting ended with a resolution for the concerned parties to adhere to the principle of COD established in 2002 and for ASEAN as a whole to maintain peace in the region.
Kerry's proposal was totally ignored or not even discussed as ASEAN knew that US only cares for its own interests, not Philippines let alone that of ASEAN.


by: Frankie Fook-lun Leung from: Los Angeles
August 11, 2014 6:23 PM
I do not see any real fights in the area. China knows that it has to restrain itself. The ASEAN by themselves are too weak on one's own and they do not stand together to resist China. There will be a lot of incidents and posturing in the next five years. Nobody really wants a fight.


by: meanbill from: USA
August 11, 2014 5:50 PM
THE WISE MAN said it;... It will remain calm in the South China Sea, as long as they keep the US from interfering in the politics of the (ASEAN) countries, like the US did with their interference in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, and now Ukraine, (then), without the US interference, the (ASEAN) countries conflicts won't end in the violence, destruction, killings and wars that never seem to end, and their conflicts can be settled peacefully, without the US political interference...... REALLY

In Response

by: Tuan from: VN
August 12, 2014 10:26 AM
Crashing boats to each other is calm? Chinese sacrifice their own people to bring dollars home for the big brothers. Since when china is calm!
Be truthful to yourself.

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