Southeast Asian leaders to talk China, trade

A+
A
A-

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

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN—Southeast Asian leaders will meet in Brunei on Wednesday hoping to heal wounds from infighting over relations with China, while building momentum towards groundbreaking economic partnerships.

The annual summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) comes after the bloc suffered deep splits last year linked to territorial disputes with China over the resource-rich South China Sea.

Asean members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as China and Taiwan, claim parts of the sea, which is also home to some of the world’s most important shipping lanes as well as rich fishing grounds.

But a push by the Philippines and Vietnam for Asean to send a united message to an increasingly aggressive China crumbled amid resistance from Cambodia, a close Chinese ally that held the rotating chair of the bloc in 2012.

Senior Asean figures emphasized ahead of the two-day summit in Brunei’s capital that the group, which for more than four decades has operated by consensus, must work hard to find common ground on the South China Sea issue.

Asean leaders will make a united call in an end-of-summit statement for talks with China on the issue, but they will avoid any strong language, according to a draft of the document obtained by AFP.

“We reaffirmed our commitment to ensuring the peaceful resolution of disputes without resorting to the threat or use of force, through friendly consultations in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law,” the draft statement said.

The draft repeated a call made regularly by Southeast Asian countries for an “early conclusion” on a legally binding code of conduct for the sea between Asean and China.

But the draft made no mention of when they would hope to clinch a deal on the code.

Brunei had said one of its priorities as this year’s Asean chair was to see the code of conduct, initially proposed in 2002, agreed by the end of the year.

However China, which prefers to negotiate directly with individual countries rather than a united Asean bloc, has refused to begin meaningful talks on the code, and has given no indication it is willing to start negotiations soon.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino indicated on Wednesday that he would keep the pressure on his Asean colleagues over the issue, telling reporters in Manila that he would argue a code of conduct needed to be signed “as soon as possible”. Feuds over how to deal with China overshadowed most senior-level Asean meetings last year.

The Philippines and Vietnam are the most vocal critics of China, while Laos and Cambodia are regarded as Beijing’s staunchest allies in Asean.

Asean leaders have said that one of the other key issues on the agenda during the Brunei summit is pressing ahead with deeper economic integration within the bloc, and with other countries in the region.

The leaders are set to announce that Asean will begin negotiations next month with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand for a giant free trade pact, according to the draft end-of-summit statement.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) aims to tie together Asean’s free trade agreements with each trading partner, which would account for a third of the world’s economic output, and is being strongly backed by China.

Asean hopes to conclude the RCEP deal by the end of 2015, the same time as a single market for the 10 Southeast Asian countries is meant to be finalized.

The ASEAN Economic Community is one of the other top items on the agenda in Brunei this week.

The leaders will note in their end-of-summit document that 77.5 percent of the community’s blueprint has been mapped out, according to the draft.

Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah will host the summit at the prime minister’s new office, a dome-topped building with a forest of enormous pillars inside made of marble imported from Italy, and other extravagant features.

The event begins with a leaders’ dinner on Wednesday night, followed by meetings throughout Thursday.

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Albert Einstien

    RP must become a STRONG NATION first for countries to respect it…strong MILITARY & PATRIOTIC VISIONARY LEADERSHIP…are needed to build a STRONG NATION….. for the past 30 years RP has been ELECTING useless leaders.from corrupt, criminals ,traitors, foreign lapdogs & lunatics….We should change and think as a NATION if we want RESPECT.. not as a mere SLAVE NATION forever to foreign powers…..so sad … : < (

    • $18209031

      Oligarchs and political dynasties ruled this land since 1946 and scked its resources for their own benefits.

      • $26149191

        Like mother China Dyansties rips China’s 5000 years of Civilization, they throw it away to the jungle full of shiiiiiiiiiiittt!!!!!

      • $18209031

        IT was the eight foreign powers who ransacked China in 1900 Japos in WW2 and Kuomintang forces in 1946-1948. You must be jcking offf hard and fast, idiot.

      • $26149191

        Your father race ransacked China’s wealth. But west make them back on the track. Then steal their techno’s.

      • $18209031

        CHina doesnt owe nothing to the West for nothing is freely given. Chinese working hard day and night for pennies to these American and western companies. THe West used them to the max like slaves and become richer while Chinese work like oxens and lowly paid. You must be jcking hard, ehhh

        USA owes China a huge favor, for China opens its huge market s to American made products at outrageously high prices. These products are not necessarily the best quality as most are made by lazy negroes and white trash. CHinese are brainwashed to believe, if its made in USA, it should be good. Many are made at the lowest quality and design. Chinese have learned hard and would rather buy European made for more money but are guaranteed to be more quality.

      • $26149191

        HONG KONG — Hong Kong lawmakers on Wednesday protested against a government plan to donate $13 million to a Chinese earthquake disaster fund, claiming the money would go into the pockets of corrupt officials.

        The 6.6-magnitude quake which hit Sichuan province Saturday has left at least 193 dead and more than 12,000 injured, and has also forced the evacuation of some 245,000 people.

        But many Hong Kongers object to leader Leung Chun-ying’s plan for the city government to donate HK$100 million ($13 million) to a Sichuan provincial government disaster fun

        It is the truth not you. Even the your name is irony of your real state.( Small penis)

      • Crazy_horse101010

        then mao came along and killed 70 million and his red guards killed 30 million according to the chinese government reports but they never ransacked and yes there is a santa claus. who is the idiot

      • $18209031

        Your figures are all wronged. One billion CHinese perished in the time of Mao . Today, theres 1.3 B Chinese going strong and stronger.

      • $26149191

        You need more Methamphetamine!!! Go!!

    • kanoy

      THE VOTERS WILL SEE TO IT THAT THE SAME POLITICAL DYNASTIES REMAIN IN POWER ALONG WITH YOUR USUAL GROUP OF UNEDUCATED BOXERS SINGERS ACTORS AND TV PERSONA,,,,PATRIOTISM STARTS WITH THE CORRUPT LAWMAKERS VOTERS ENVY

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94