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Asean leaders feud over West Philippine Sea disputes with China

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From left to right, Myanmar’s President Thein Sein, Philippines’ President Benigno Aquino III, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen, pose for a photo during the 21st Asean Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. AP PHOTO/VINCENT THIAN

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—Asian leaders feuded on Monday over how to handle tense maritime territorial disputes with China, overshadowing talks at a regional summit meant to strengthen trade and political ties.

The leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations had hoped to present a united front on the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) row as they hosted Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and US President Barack Obama for annual talks.

But that effort broke down just before the Asean leaders met Wen, amid divisions between Chinese ally Cambodia and the Philippines.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda also weighed into the debate at the 18-nation East Asia Summit, warning the South China Sea was of concern to the international community and could impact peace and stability in the region.

Cambodia, this year’s Asean chair and host of the summit, said on Sunday that Southeast Asian leaders had agreed not to “internationalize” the disputes and would confine negotiations to those between the bloc and China.

The apparent deal would have been a victory for China, which has long insisted that it should only negotiate directly with rival countries.

The Philippines has consistently sought wider help, such as from close ally the United States, in dealing with its more powerful Asian neighbor on the issue.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Monday publicly rebuked Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, saying no such consensus had been reached and he would continue to speak out on the global stage.

“The Philippines… has the inherent right to defend its national interests when deemed necessary,” Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario told reporters, quoting Aquino’s comments to his fellow leaders.

The feud echoed unprecedented infighting at an Asean foreign ministers’ meeting in Phnom Penh in July, which ended for the first time in the bloc’s 45-year history without a joint communique.

The Philippines and Vietnam had wanted the communique to make specific reference to their disputes with China. But Cambodia blocked the moves.

Asean members Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as Taiwan, have claims to parts of the sea, which is home to some of the world’s most important shipping lanes and believed to be rich in fossil fuels.

But China insists it has sovereign rights to virtually all of the sea.

Tensions have risen steadily over the past two years, with the Philippines and Vietnam accusing China of increasingly aggressive diplomatic tactics to stake its claims.

Temperatures could rise again later Monday when Obama joins the East Asia Summit, a two-day event also involving the leaders of South Korea, India, New Zealand and Australia.

Obama has previously angered China, and emboldened the Philippines, by calling for the rival claimants to agree on a legally binding code of conduct to govern their actions over the sea.

Analysts said he would likely repeat that call in Phnom Penh, as well as make comments highlighting the importance of freedom of navigation in the sea.

Even with the South China Sea row festering, countries involved in the East Asia Summit were expected to focus on ways to expand economic ties.

Asean nations are set to officially launch negotiations on Tuesday for an enormous free trade pact with China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

And despite their own territorial rows, China, Japan and South Korea are likely to hold talks in Phnom Penh on Tuesday aimed at kickstarting three-way free trade negotiations.


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Tags: ASEAN , China , Diplomacy , Maritime Disputes , Philippines , Summit , territorial disputes

  • Alikabok Ni Procopio

     China is not using UNCLOS… in fact, they’re moving against. It’s clear that with UNCLOS, China has ZERO rights to the SEA, specially with Kalayaan/Panatag islands.

    • PurpleDaisy13

      re: “It’s clear that with UNCLOS, China has ZERO rights to the SEA, specially with Kalayaan/Panatag islands.”

      Everyone has ZERO rights to Panatag island (Scarborough Shoal).  UNCLOS is not meant to be used to acquire rights to claim “islands”.  It is meant to acquire territorial rights to claim “sea water”.

      Hence, UNCLOS stands for United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  Not the Law of the Islands.

  • Alikabok Ni Procopio

    You are right about Cambodia’s aim to feed their people… They need China to do this.

    And at some point they hate Philippines… Because a long time ago this heroic nation sided with US to destroy communism in Vietnam  :)

    • AFPako

      Cambodia will survive bec they have plenty of farm lands . Pinas will not survive in case of a catastrophic food shortage. Kinamkam na sa mga politiko nyo ang mga farmlands halos ginawang basurahan.

  • Alikabok Ni Procopio

    Wrong bond… Tibet is never China… They are Tibetans… and even now they claim independence from China… Your nation.

    • AFPako

      Kayumangmangs were never part of Pinas. Kayumangmangs belong to Champa shztdom down in Indo Malayo Macacaland. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZLZF3S4KAAM7FT2FOFQBQUHEMM Lahi

    Pag dumating na ang time natin na mag-host sa ASEAN ay huwag papasukin ng Pilipinas ang mga delegates ng Cambodia at ngayon pa lamang ay putulin na natin ang pakikipag-ugnayan sa traydor na bansang Cambodia.

    • AFPako

      Just like what these racist WHite Powers of the past did to arbitrarily take lands and kill people at will and employ their dirty tricks by hook or crook, China will make sure they cannot bully again.  China is just doing a kind reciprocity to these dying empires of the west. Kayumangmangs are just in a bad spot right now holding on to white daddy O.

      • verjomar

        Humanity had already moved on from the mistakes committed in the past. If your Chinese mindset of economic development and progress means global domination so that you can get even, are you sure the world are that naive to allow it? Remember life is too short to be spend in hatred and fighting. 

      • AFPako

        Yan ang problema mo , napaka naive. Pag ibahin mo yan isip mo . In the real world, things are gonna be black and white and no in between. . Just look at whats going on in Gaza, the Israelis are very powerful and they are treating the Palestinians like ghetto people confined in a very crowded place.,  Kawawa mga ito.  Palestinians are no match to power of IDF  , 

        That is a fact of life, if you are weak , you will be bullied . Good bye ka. The same thing happened to China during Qing Dynasty, much of the powerhouse of the time like the Imperial Brits coerced China to give up HK and flood China will shzt opium. 
        Anyway  moving forward today China has the means to whup someone’s azz if they try to bully and attack China. Then that bully will not try to do it , right ? The only thing the west respect is when you are powerful. If not, they will bully you anytime and anyday.China is not attacking any nation unless attacked upon or threatened. If its territories are under threat then it will defend it. This talk of China being the bully and hungry for world domination  are  black propaganda.  
        The west used bully tactics before and if China bully back, they will call you the aggressor. These people will never respect China bec they were and will always remain bullies. Bullies need to be treated like bullies.  What do you expect China do?  Be bullied , no way….

        Like what the Jews hold on to, An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. 
        The Palestinians fire rockets to Israel, the Israel fires back.  Its the nature of the beast.



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