ASEAN deadlocked on South China Sea, Cambodia blocks statement

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen visiting the Taiwan warship she was to send to patrol the 200-mile exclusive econmic zone around Taiping Island.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen visiting the Taiwan warship she was to send to patrol the 200-mile exclusive econmic zone around Taiping Island that has been denied by Hague arbitration ruling. SCMP’s Photo

China's H-6K bomber conducting combat patrols at Scarborough Shoal

China’s H-6K bomber conducting combat patrols at Scarborough Shoal to safeguard China’s rights and interests to the South China Sea that has been denied by Hague arbitration ruling. Chinese air force’s photo

Southeast Asian nations failed to agree on maritime disputes in the South China Sea on Sunday after Cambodia blocked any mention to an international court ruling against Beijing in their statement, diplomats said.

Foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met for the first time since the U.N.-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration handed an emphatic legal victory to the Philippines in the dispute this month.

The ruling by the court in The Hague denied China’s sweeping claims in the strategic seaway, through which more than $5 trillion in global trade passes each year.

China claims most of the sea, but ASEAN members the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei all have rival claims. Beijing says the ruling has no bearing on its rights in the sea, and described the case as a farce.

The Philippines and Vietnam both wanted the communique issued by ASEAN foreign ministers after their meeting to refer to the ruling and the need to respect international law, ASEAN diplomats said. Their foreign ministers both discussed the ruling with ASEAN counterparts in the Laotian capital.

But before the meeting, China’s closest ASEAN ally Cambodia opposed the proposed wording, throwing the group into disarray. Phnom Penh supports Beijing’s opposition to any ASEAN stand on the South China Sea, and its preference for dealing with the disputed claims on a bilateral basis.


“We are still working on it,” Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told Reuters after the meeting on Sunday, adding that she hoped the ASEAN members would reach an agreement.

Cambodia’s Foreign Minister Prak Sokhon declined to comment on his country’s position on Sunday.

Even after a late-night meeting of foreign ministers called to thrash out the issue late on Saturday, the region’s top diplomats were unable to find a compromise.

The group has given itself until Tuesday to come to issue a statement, said one ASEAN diplomat.

ASEAN is facing the prospect of being unable to issue a statement after a meeting for only the second time in its 49-year history. The first time, in 2012, was also due to Cambodia’s resistance to language about the South China Sea.

“We have been here before and I hope they can solve it,” said one official from the ASEAN Secretariat in Indonesia. “It is the same story again, a repeat of the meeting in 2012.”

Over the next two days, Southeast Asian nations will meet with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry and Wang are also expected to meet and discuss the maritime issues.

Wang, who started bilateral meetings with ASEAN members on Sunday, said he thought the media focus on the South China Sea issue was “very strange”.

It was “not a China-ASEAN issue,” he said, adding that disputes should be resolved among the parties involved.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumiko Kishida will also be in Laos for the ASEAN regional forum meeting. It is unclear if he will meet Wang, but China reacted angrily to Kishida saying he would discuss the sea issue if they do meet.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, in a statement posted on the ministry’s website, said the sea is not Japan’s concern.

“We urge Japan not to hype up and meddle in the South China Sea issue,” he said. “Japan is not a concerned party in the South China Sea, and because of its disgraceful history is in no place to make irresponsible comments about China.”


The United States, allied with the Philippines and cultivating closer relations with Vietnam, has called on China to respect the court’s ruling.

It has criticised China’s building of artificial islands and facilities in the sea and has sailed warships close to the disputed territory to assert freedom of navigation rights.

But Kerry will urge ASEAN nations to explore diplomatic ways to ease tension over Asia’s biggest potential military flashpoint, a senior U.S. official said ahead of his trip.

Chinese state media called for “damage control” at the meetings. A commentary published by the official Xinhua news agency on Sunday said the court ruling was a “blow to peace and stability in the region … and only serves to increase the likelihood of confrontation and turbulence.”

Barack Obama is set in September to become the first U.S. president to visit Laos, attending an annual summit hosted by the country that holds the ASEAN chairmanship.

Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is also in Laos, making her debut at ASEAN meetings as the foreign minister for Myanmar.

(Additional reporting by Simon Webb in Vientiane and Lesley Wroughton in Paris; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

Source: Reuters “ASEAN deadlocked on South China Sea, Cambodia blocks statement”


3 Comments on “ASEAN deadlocked on South China Sea, Cambodia blocks statement”

  1. Simon says:

    This article still mention the illegal PCA as “UN backed”. I’m voting it down in protest.


  2. Fre Okin says:

    ASEAN is deadlocked because Cambodia herself have also being a victim of past aggression by Vietnam, specifically her illegally occupation of Phu Quoc island much nearer to Cambodia than Vietnam, about the size of Singapore at the southern end of the South China Sea. She see the double standard the West imposed on her, so she won’t allow similar double standard to befall on China.

    I am certain Cambodia is like many ASEAN nation, in complete disbelief that Taiping Island is called a rock. Here is my argument to expose the PCA fraud on the general public and one can see this island as rock connection have to do with the Nine Dash Line dispute.

    “PCA unanimous verdict = unanimous fraud against the general public. Which court issue unanimous verdict? Very very rare for judges to speak in unison. You try to wiggle out of the Nine Dash Line connection but you can’t.

    If the video and camera technology exist back around 1947 when Taiwan ROC start to exert sovereignty on Taiping island, it will be possible to show Taiping Island itself is capable of sustaining life all on it’s own. Back then, Taiwan just put marker stones and flags on the island and left while PH continue to scheme under Tomas Cloma to take over the Spratlys.

    Back then, the Cloma clans occupy Thitu and other islands after 1956 manufactured res nullis claim. WHERE do they get the waters from? Import from Manila? If video, camera exist back then, they can prove the island is self sustainable.

    It is clear just using the Tomas Cloma history of Occupation of the Thitu and other islands, THEY prove Beyond A Doubt Thitu island is capable of habitation and sustaining economic life all of it’s own. SO can the Larger Taiping island where human occupancy comes much later due to Taiwan’s Civil War with China back then, she can only put marker stones and flags there initially.

    This Tomas Cloma Occupation of Thitu Island should Expose The Fraud PCA try to pull on the general public. Back then there is No Desalination plant, No solar power, No plastic tarp to help collect water, Nothing high tech to help sustain life all on it’s own. YET They Managed To Sustain Life Economically All On Their Own. One can therefore extrapolate Taiping Island is indeed capable of life sustaining activities all of it’s own as well and should be accorded island status.

    I am sure the PCA judges Knew about this reality but due to a Bigger Scheme to shoot down the Nine Dash Line, they resort to Preposterous Taiping Island as Rock argument. Lies Exposed and Dots Connected!


    “On May 11, 1956, Tomas Cloma Sr. together with 40 men, took formal possession of the islands, lying some 380 miles (612 km) west of the southern end of Palawan and named them Freedomland.[5]”

    These 40+ people will die in no time from lack of water on the island itself. It is clear Thitu island is life sustainable, even for 40+ people initially all by itself, So Can Taiping Island.”


    • Simon says:

      The western media is accusing Cambodia of being an ally of China and preventing ASEAN joint statement over China’s claims in the SCS. Most ASEAN members apart of the Phillipines are quietly happy to let Cambodia shoulder that blame and not having to come out and oppose the joint statement themselves. There is Thailand, Laos, Myanmar who could and would have opposed it because of their economic dependent on China, even Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia must be relieved to avoid upsetting Beijing.

      Liked by 1 person