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Politics & Law

Southeast Asia to reach out to China on sea disputes

ASEAN Summit at the Prime Minister's Office in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

ASEAN Summit at the Prime Minister’s Office in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Southeast Asian nations stepped up efforts on Thursday to engage China in talks to resolve maritime tensions, agreeing to meet to try to reach common ground on disputed areas of the South China Sea ahead of planned discussions in Beijing later this year.

Efforts by ASEAN to craft a code of conduct to manage South China Sea tensions all but collapsed last year at a summit chaired by Cambodia, a close economic ally of China, when the group failed to issue a closing statement for the first time.

Cambodia was accused of trying to keep the issue off the agenda despite a surge in tension over disputed areas and growing concern about China’s assertive stance in enforcing its claims over a vast, potentially energy-rich sea area.

Thursday’s initiative came as the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) tried to patch up differences that shook the group last year, but struggled to make progress on long-held plans to agree on a dispute-management mechanism.

Thailand, which has the role of ASEAN coordinator with China, called for the talks ahead of an ASEAN-China meeting expected in August to commemorate 10 years since they formed a “strategic partnership”.

ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh told reporters that ASEAN would approach China with a common stance.

“When we come to our partners to discuss important issues, we come as a group and we come with one common position,” he said, adding that the next move would be to get China to participate in the negotiations.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea as its territory, setting it directly against U.S. allies Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also claim parts.

China insists on resolving sovereignty disputes on a bilateral basis. It has flexed its growing “blue water” naval muscle by occupying some areas claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines, leading to a rise in tension.

Without mentioning Cambodia, Philippine President Benigno Aquino drew a strong contrast with last year’s discussions.

He described as “beautiful” the fact that Brunei had brought up the South China Sea issue as the first subject.

“We should really be thankful that the whole of ASEAN is willing to discuss this instead of putting it on the back burner,” Aquino told reporters.

The tiny oil kingdom of Brunei, in marked contrast to Cambodia, it is keeping the maritime issue high on the agenda.


But prospects for a legally binding code of conduct appear dim. The summit-concluding communiqué on Thursday made no new announcement, but said ASEAN ministers had been tasked to “work actively with China” for a conclusion of the proposed agreement.

A U.S. move to rebalance its military forces to focus more on Asia has threatened to worsen tension, reinforcing China’s fears of encirclement.

China has had a permanent naval presence for a year at the Scarborough Shoal, a rich fishing ground 124 nautical miles off the Philippines northwestern coast.

Last month, it sent four warships to land troops on its southernmost claim – the James Shoal, 80 km (50 miles) off the Malaysian coast and close to Brunei.

Tensions are likely to rise again in coming months, as monsoon weather eases and China imposes a unilateral annual fishing ban that has irritated Vietnam and the Philippines.

Frustrated with the slow pace of regional diplomacy, the Philippines in January angered China by asking a United Nations tribunal to order a halt to Beijing’s activities, such as those at Scarborough Shoal, that it said violated its sovereignty.

The Philippines appeared to win backing for that approach in Brunei, despite concern that it could be used by China as a reason to further delay talks on a code of conduct.

Source: Reuters “Southeast Asia to reach out to China on sea disputes”

About chankaiyee2

Author of the book "Tiananmen's Tremendous Achievements" about how with the help of Tiananmen Protests, talented scholars with moral integrity seized power in the Party and state and brought prosperity to China. The second edition of the book will be published within a few days to mark the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Protests All the parts in the first edition remain in the second edition with a few changes due to information available later and better understanding. There are also some changes for improvements of style. The new parts are Chapters 12-19 on events in China after the first edition was published: The fierce power struggle for succession between reformists and conservatives; Xi Jinping winning all elders’ support during his mysterious disappearance for 2 weeks in early September, 2012; and Xi Jinping Cyclone. Chan Kai Yee's new book: SPACE ERA STRATEGY: The Way China Beats The US An eye-opening book that tells the truth how the US is losing to China. The US is losing as it adopts the outdated strategy of Air-Sea Battle while China adopts the space era strategy to pursue integrated space and air capabilities: It is losing due to its diplomacy that has given rise to Russian-Chinese alliance. US outdated strategy has enabled China to catch up and surpass the US in key weapons: Hypersonic weapons (HGV) that Pentagon regards as the weapon that will dominate the world in the future. Aerospaceplane in China’s development of space-air bomber that can engage enemy anywhere in the world within an hour and destroy an entire aircraft carrier battle group within minutes. Anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons, anti-ASAT weapons, stealth aircrafts, drones, AEW&C, etc. The book gives detailed descriptions of China’s weapon development based on information mainly from Chinese sources that the author monitors closely. U.S. Must Not Be Beaten by China! China is not a democracy. Its political system cannot prevent the emergence of a despotic leader or stop such a leader when he begins to bring disasters to people. A few decades ago, Mao Zedong, the worst tyrant in world history did emerge and bring disasters to Chinese people. He wanted to fight a nuclear war to replace capitalism with communism but could not bring nuclear holocaust to world people as China was too weak and poor at that time. If a despot like Mao Zedong emerges when China has surpassed the US in military strength, world people will suffer the misery experienced by Chinese people in Mao era. China surpassing the US in GDP is not something to worry about as China has the heavy burden to satisfy its huge population, but China surpassing the US in military strength will be world people’s greatest concern if China remains an autocracy. US people are of much better quality than Chinese people. What they lack is a wise leader to adopt the correct strategy and diplomacy and the creative ways to use its resources in developing its military capabilities. I hope that with the emergence of a great leader, the US can put an end to its decline and remain number one in the world. China, US, space era strategy, air-sea battle, space-air bomber, arms race, weapon development, chan kai yee

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