Clinton to walk tightrope with China amid rows

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet her Chinese counterpart in Cambodia on Thursday, keen to avoid souring ties amid a fraught background of rows between Beijing and its neighbours.

The US has made a military and economic "pivot" towards Asia in a strategic bid to counteract China's influence in the region, which is home to huge untapped resources and surging economies.

Discussions between Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi at the ASEAN Regional Forum in Phnom Penh come amid a fresh spat over a string of remote islands claimed by Japan and China.

The sudden flare-up of new tensions, sparked by Chinese patrol boats approaching the islands on Wednesday, threatened to overshadow efforts by Southeast Asian nations to agree on a "code of conduct" for disputed waters.

Japan lodged a formal complaint and summoned the Chinese ambassador, while Beijing asserted they "have always been China's territory since ancient times, over which China has indisputable sovereignty".

Japan refers to the islands in the East China Sea as Senkaku and sees a Japanese family as the owners, while China calls them the Diaoyu.

The ten members of Southeast Asian body ASEAN have been attempting to draft a code of conduct for the South China Sea to avert conflicts and create a mechanism for settling disputes.

At the summit, Clinton is likely to try to balance support for US allies Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam -- all angered by China's recent perceived aggression in contested seas -- with efforts to keep Beijing onside, analysts say.

The resource-rich South China Sea, home to vital shipping lanes, is the subject of overlapping claims by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and others, but is considered almost entirely Chinese by Beijing.

China said it is prepared to discuss a code to boost trust, but it wants to settle territorial disputes bilaterally -- largely because it can bring its huge economic and military clout to bear in negotiations with small neighbours.

A senior US State Department official travelling with Clinton confirmed she will discuss the Japan incident.

The same official told reporters on Monday that the US is "going to be very clear in our determination to see progress on the (South China Sea) code of conduct."

"The entire prosperity of Asia, which is really at the centre of the global economy, rests on the maintenance of peace and stability. So the stakes could not be higher," the official added, requesting anonymity.

Wary of irking China, Clinton will also discuss several less contentious issues with Yang -- such as joint humanitarian response work.

The Philippines is leading a push for ASEAN to unite to persuade China to accept a code of conduct based on a UN law on maritime boundaries that would delineate the areas belonging to each country.

Asked about the Japan-China spat, Philippine Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario told reporters: "It looks like they're (China) becoming more aggressive every day."

Analysts say the sudden outburst over the East China Sea islands will drive anxious neighbouring countries closer to the United States.

"The Chinese huff and bluff with Japan does not augur well," said Southeast Asia expert Carl Thayer, who runs a consultancy. "China's actions have certainly pushed the Philippines towards Washington," he added.

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.

  • Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel
    Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel

    The $150,000 pearl-studded, custom-made Calvin Klein dress worn by Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o at this year's Academy Awards has been stolen, police said on Thursday. The gown, embellished with 6,000 natural white pearls, was stolen from Nyong'o's room at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, during the day on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in West Hollywood said. "Ms Nyong'o was not in the room at the time of the theft," Deputy John Mitchell …

  • South Korea decriminalises adultery, condom shares soar
    South Korea decriminalises adultery, condom shares soar

    South Korea's Constitutional Court on Thursday struck down a controversial adultery law which for more than 60 years had criminalised extra-marital sex and jailed violators for up to two years. The decision saw shares in the South Korean firm Unidus Corp., one of the world's largest condom manufacturers, soar by the daily limit of 15 percent on the local stock exchange. "Even if adultery should be condemned as immoral, state power should not intervene in individuals' private lives," said …

  • US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians
    US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians

    The US-led coalition has carried out air strikes against the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria, where the jihadists have launched a new offensive and kidnapped 220 Assyrian Christians. The raids on Thursday struck areas around the town of Tal Tamr in Hasakeh province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, without giving information on possible casualties. The town remains under the control of Kurdish forces, but at least 10 surrounding villages have been seized by IS, along …

  • U.S. flies most advanced surveillance plane from Philippines

    By Manuel Mogato MANILA (Reuters) - The United States has begun flying its most advanced surveillance aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon, out of the Philippines for patrols over the South China Sea, the U.S. Navy said on Thursday, acknowledging the flights for the first time. The United States, the Philippines' oldest and closest ally, has promised to share "real time" information on what is happening in Philippine waters as China steps up its activities in the South China Sea. China claims most of …

  • National Geographic 'Afghan girl' in Pakistan papers probe
    National Geographic 'Afghan girl' in Pakistan papers probe

    Pakistani officials are investigating after the famous green-eyed "Afghan girl" immortalised in a 1985 National Geographic magazine cover was found living in the country on fraudulent identity papers. The haunting image of the then 12-year-old Sharbat Gula, taken in a refugee camp by photographer Steve McCurry, became the most famous cover image in the magazine's history. Now Pakistani officials say that Gula applied for a Pakistani identity card in the northwestern city of Peshawar in April …

  • Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts
    Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts

    BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic State militants seized more Christians from their homes in northeastern Syria in the past three days, bringing the total number abducted by the extremist group to over 220, activists said Thursday. …

  • ‘Noy angered by previous SAF failures to get Marwan’
    ‘Noy angered by previous SAF failures to get Marwan’

    Supt. Raymund Train, who led the SAF team that killed Marwan in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25, recounted in a sworn statement the meeting he and senior SAF officers had with Aquino in Malacañang on Nov. 30. Train said among the senior officers who attended the meeting were then PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, SAF chief Director Getulio Napeñas, SAF deputy commander Chief Supt. Noli Taliño and intelligence group chief Senior Supt. Fernando Mendez. …

  • IS executioner 'Jihadi John' named as London graduate
    IS executioner 'Jihadi John' named as London graduate

    "Jihadi John", the masked Islamic State group militant believed responsible for beheading of at least five Western hostages, has been named as Kuwaiti-born computing graduate Mohammed Emwazi from London. "Jihadi John", nicknamed after Beatle John Lennon due to his British accent, is believed to be responsible for the murders of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning and American aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options