ASEAN pushed on South China Sea code

Southeast Asian nations should give top priority to easing tensions with Beijing in the South China Sea, Cambodia's premier said on Monday, as he stressed the importance of regional stability.

As foreign ministers met in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, Prime Minister Hun Sen said hammering out a code of conduct with China in the disputed waters was a chief goal for the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Tension over competing claims in the South China Sea promises to be the hot button issue of the meetings, particularly later in the week when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Chinese counterpart are among regional participants for the security-focused ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

In his opening address Hun Sen urged delegates to "give emphasis" to working towards a code of conduct in the sea, which will provide guidelines to resolving disputes over a web of conflicting territorial claims involving several member nations.

He said ASEAN should show that it can be a "driving force for the promotion of dialogue and cooperation" on political and security issues.

"Maintaining regional peace and security is indispensable for ASEAN prosperity," said the Cambodian leader, whose country currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the bloc.

Tensions have risen recently in the sea, with both Vietnam and the Philippines accusing Beijing of aggressive behaviour.

Manila is leading a push for ASEAN to unite to persuade China to accept a code of conduct but Beijing has preferred an approach that would deal with the claimants individually.

Senior diplomats attending the meetings in Cambodia said ASEAN was still wrangling over how to approach the issue without offending China, the world's second biggest economy and a major trade partner for many Southeast Asian states.

One diplomat, who asked not to be named, said ASEAN has yet to reach consensus on whether to mention the recent standoff between Chinese and Philippine ships in the disputed Scarborough Shoal in a joint communique.

Another statement, to be issued at the end of the wider ARF meeting, is expected to refer to the South China Sea issue in general terms, another diplomat said.

China claims essentially all of the South China Sea, home to vital shipping lanes and believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits. Taiwan and ASEAN members the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia also have claims in the waters.

China recently angered Vietnam by inviting bids for exploration of oil blocks in contested waters, sparking protests in Hanoi.

US Secretary of State Clinton on Sunday urged "progress" on the code of conduct in the sea.

The strategic rivalry between Washington and Beijing is expected to loom large over the summit, following the recent expansion of US military relations with the Philippines and Vietnam.

But observers predict Clinton will be eager to downplay any friction with China and may be less outspoken on the maritime dispute than in the past.

ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam -- a grouping of nearly 600 million people from disparate economic and political systems.

The bloc has often been dismissed as a talking shop but it has assumed new strategic importance in light of Washington's foreign policy "pivot" to Asia and the economic rise of China in recent years.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • First China air force drills in 'far offshore' Pacific
    First China air force drills in 'far offshore' Pacific

    China's air force has carried out its first ever military drill over the western Pacific Ocean, state media said, highlighting Beijing's growing military reach. Several aircraft from China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) on Monday flew over the ocean via the Bashi Channel, which runs between Taiwan and the Philippines, the official Xinhua news agency said. "This is the first time that the PLA Air Force conducted such drills in an airspace far offshore from Chinese coastlines," Xinhua cited …

  • Shorter hours for rail lines tomorrow
    Shorter hours for rail lines tomorrow

    The Metro Rail Transit (MRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT) and the Philippine National Railways (PNR) will have shorter hours tomorrow for the replacement of defective railroad tracks during the Holy Week. …

  • Noy increases allowances for cops, soldiers
    Noy increases allowances for cops, soldiers

    President Aquino has signed a joint congressional resolution raising the daily subsistence allowance for both members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Aquino signed last March 27 the merged Joint Resolution 2 of the Senate and Joint Resolution 26 of the House of Representatives. Speaking to reporters, Lacierda yesterday said the daily allowances of police officers and soldiers were raised from P90 …

  • Oil firms raise gas prices today
    Oil firms raise gas prices today

    This year’s Holy Week break will be accompanied by an increase in local pump prices after oil companies announced yesterday a P1.10 per liter hike for gasoline and P0.60 per liter for diesel effective today. “Phoenix Petroleum Philippines will increase the prices of gasoline by P1.10 per liter and diesel by P0.60 per liter effective 6 a.m. of March 31, 2015 to reflect the movements in the prices of refined petroleum products in the international market,” said Phoenix Petroleum, an independent …

  • DFA denies dropping Phl claim to Sabah
    DFA denies dropping Phl claim to Sabah

    The Philippines has never offered to drop its Sabah claim in exchange for Malaysia’s support for Manila’s arbitration case against China over the West Philippine Sea issue, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday. “In the context of our friendly bilateral relations, our two countries have been for years exchanging ways on how to address the issue of the extended continental shelf (ECS) in the South China Sea,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said in explaining the DFA’s …

  • Pagcor remits record high P5 B to national treasury
    Pagcor remits record high P5 B to national treasury

    The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) has remitted P5 billion in cash dividends to the National Treasury, fully settling all its arrears incurred in the last several years. Pagcor chairman and chief executive officer Cristino Naguiat Jr. said with this year’s remittance, the state-owned gaming firm has fully settled all remaining arrears in cash dividends that were incurred by the previous administration since 2005. Pagcor’s cash dividends to the National Treasury under its …

  • Maysak moves closer to Phl
    Maysak moves closer to Phl

    The typhoon with international name Maysak slightly accelerated as it moved closer to the Philippines yesterday, threatening to dump rains over eastern Luzon this weekend, the state weather bureau said. Rene Paciente, senior weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said Maysak was spotted at 2,175 kilometers east of Mindanao as of 1 p.m. yesterday. Paciente said based on their latest forecast, Maysak is likely to affect …

  • Phl gets P2-B climate projects from Germany
    Phl gets P2-B climate projects from Germany

    The Philippines is getting 41 million euros or around P2 billion from the International Climate Initiative (ICI) of Germany that will fund 10 bilateral projects to address the impact of climate change. Climate Change Commission (CCC) vice chairman Lucille Sering yesterday met with Norbert Gorissen – head of the International Climate Finance of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety – to discuss the projects, some of which will be …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options