ASEAN: New South China Sea Tensions Arise
ASEAN: New South China Sea Tensions Arise
New tensions arose among Southeast Asian leaders after the Philippines rejected assertions by China and Cambodia that the grouping had agreed not to internationalize the territorial dispute over the South China Sea.
“This was not the understanding of both the Philippines and at least one other country,” Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario told reporters.
“Various views were expressed on Association of South East Asian Nations unity which were translated by the Chair, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen into an Asean consensus.”
The Philippines “has the inherent right to defend its national interest when deemed necessary,” Mr. Rosario added.
This comes after a Chinese government spokesman said Monday that ASEAN reached agreement to not internationalize the dispute and to deal directly as a bloc with Beijing to resolve differences.
In a joint statement after meeting US President Obama Tuesday, ASEAN leaders said they agreed with US worries over sea lane access and the need to implement a regional code of conduct for the South China Sea, along with deepening their maritime cooperation. China was not a participant in that meeting.
The developments are a reminder that the waters remain a potential flashpoint and reflect moves by both China and the US to assert their influence in the region.
Expectations are now low for progress on a solution to the dispute over islands in the sea, which is crossed by more than half the world’s total trade and is thought to contain vast energy and mineral reserves. The islands in question are broadly claimed by China and in part by such nations as Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
Talks so far during the meetings of the 10-member ASEAN bloc have indicated Cambodia is again aligning with China on the dispute, while the Philippines has long regarded the US as its ally. A meeting of foreign ministers in July broke up without issuing a communique’ for the 1st time in ASEAN history, an outcome that analysts blamed on host Cambodia being pressured by China.
Beijing has opposed efforts to settle disagreements at multi-lateral forums, saying it prefers to handle them on a bi-lateral basis.
It is unclear which other country the Philippines was referring to, but Vietnam has in the past supported Manila on the dispute. A Vietnamese official was not immediately available to comment.
The tensions come as Mr. Obama attends a wider gathering of leaders in Cambodia at the East Asia Summit. Mr. Obama is holding a series of bi-lateral meetings Tuesday before a briefing later where he may discuss the South China Sea concerns. The US urges a solution and stressed the need for a regional framework for dialogue to settle disputes peacefully.
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Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr.
Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr. writes and publishes The Red Roadmaster’s Technical Report on the US Major Market Indices, a weekly, highly-regarded financial market letter, read by opinion makers, business leaders and organizations around the world.
Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr has studied the global financial and stock markets since 1984, following a successful business career that included investment banking, and market and business analysis. He is a specialist in equities/commodities, and an accomplished chart reader who advises technicians with regard to Major Indices Resistance/Support Levels.
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