China rebuffs U.S. efforts on South China Sea tensions

Dignitaries hold hands as they pose for a photo before the 4th East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers Meeting at the Myanmar International Convention Centre (MICC) in Naypyitaw, August 10, 2014

Dignitaries hold hands as they pose for a photo before the 4th East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers Meeting at the Myanmar International Convention Centre (MICC) in Naypyitaw, August 10, 2014

China appeared to rebuff pressure from the United States to rein in its assertive actions in the South China Sea on Sunday as Southeast Asian nations declined to overtly back Washington’s proposal for a freeze on provocative acts.

The lack of progress in resolving the maritime tensions at Asia’s highest-profile diplomatic meeting so far this year shows the tough task Washington faces in persuading smaller Asian nations to risk antagonising the region’s rising power.

Foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) released a statement expressing concern over “increased tensions” and called for stepped-up talks with China, in what U.S. officials said was a setback for Beijing’s efforts to play down the disputes.

But there was no specific mention of China, and ASEAN only “noted” a formal three-point plan submitted by U.S. ally the Philippines for a moratorium on destabilising actions.

The rancour over the disputed sea has split ASEAN, with several states including some of the claimant nations reluctant to jeopardise rising trade and investment ties with China. Beijing has been able to use its influence to block regional action on the maritime issue, most notably in 2012 when an ASEAN meeting chaired by Chinese ally Cambodia broke down in acrimony.

“We urged all parties concerned to exercise self-restraint and avoid actions which would complicate the situation and undermine peace, stability, and security in the South China Sea,” ASEAN said in a communique following its meeting this weekend in the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw.

Their meeting was part of the ASEAN Regional Forum, which brings together 27 countries including China, Russia, Japan, India and Australia.

Sea tensions spiked in May when China parked a giant oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam. The U.S. and Philippine proposals aimed to prevent such actions, as well as building and land reclamation work on disputed islands being carried out by China and other claimants.

A senior U.S. official said ASEAN countries’ concern over China’s maritime actions was at an “all-time high” based on private conversations, although their public statements were more guarded to avoid antagonising China.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he was satisfied with the communique.

“I think the language goes far enough,” Kerry told reporters. “I think we made the points that we came to make. We were not seeking to pass something, we were trying to put something on the table that people could embrace.”


The communique did call for ASEAN and China to finalize a proposed Code of Conduct to ease maritime tensions, including “concrete elements” to promote trust and confidence. They have begun talks on the code but made little substantive progress.

“This language represents a significant setback for China’s efforts to play for time and change the subject,” said one senior U.S. administration official.

Chinese officials were not immediately available for comment. China rejects U.S. involvement in the dispute and has already dismissed the proposal for a freeze. China accuses the United States of emboldening claimants such as the Philippines and Vietnam with its military “pivot” back to Asia.

ASEAN and China signed a trust-building agreement in 2002 called the Declaration of Conduct (DOC), committing to exercise “self-restraint” in activities that would escalate disputes, such as occupying islands and reefs or building on them. Most claimants have flouted those guidelines, leading to rising tension between four ASEAN claimant nations and China, which claims 90 percent of the waters.

The ASEAN secretary-general, Le Luong Minh, said it was wrong to assume that the group did not support the U.S. proposal, noting that China and ASEAN had committed to implement the 2002 agreement.

“This clearly shows that the essence of the proposal of the U.S. is already reflected in the DOC,” Minh said.

The Philippines accused China in May of reclaiming land on the disputed Johnson South Reef and said it appeared to be building an airstrip. Taiwan is building a $100 million port next to an airstrip on the lone island it occupies in the disputed region.

As well as Johnson South Reef, a Philippine navy official told Reuters China was continuing land reclamation work on Gaven, Cuarteron and Eldad Reefs in the disputed Spratlys chain.

Source: Reuters “China rebuffs U.S. efforts on South China Sea tensions”

Categories: Politics & Law

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16 replies

  1. “… with several states including some of the claimant nations reluctant to jeopardise rising trade and investment ties with China”

    In plain English; “They piss their pants, suck up for the buck, and jeopardise their own country, for the sake of … course, “M O N E Y”.

    Well, I only can wish those wankers, winers and wimps (including the corporate prostitutes), that China chews them up, swallows all their juice and when tasteless, spits them out and onto the dump (What China will do anyway 😉 )

    The world is one place of a huge “SUCK”, isn’t it!

    And they want to be leaders? Wimps, they are, at best!


  2. Once again, ASEAN shows lack of political courage in their continued calls for “all parties” to restraint when clearly, China is the only territorial aggressor. The failure to respond with minimally, forceful language and/or unified act of small nation dignity will cause damaging and regretful reactions:
    1. China will intensify and focus its bully, lawless activities based on fabricated sovereignty rights against targeted claimants such as the Philippines and Vietnam while temporarily, leaving Malaysia and Indonesia alone – an appearance of peaceful co-existence if subdued to Chinese terms vs. penalized costs of standing up China.
    2. Faced with overwhelmed Chinese force, the Philippines and Vietnam have no option but to seek the mutual defense formation of some version with Australia, Japan and India and overall US protection.
    3. Witnessed Chinese expansionist commitment and confronted by gradual erosion of South China Sea freedom of navigation as well as question of reduced American leadership, the US will step up to coordinate an anti-China coalition with economic pressure and military build-ups.
    4. Forced by growing regional division, the opportunistic Malaysia and Indonesia will reluctantly migrate toward the anti-China campaign but paying lips service to extract last drops of benefit from China as well as defending their self righteousness. On the other hand, Thailand and Singapore will pretend to be neutral but always attracted to Han Chinese superiority appeal. ASEAN eventually, reaches political irrelevance and becomes a group of small nations and even smaller position in the eyes of international community.


    • Nothing is more ridiculous than saying China is the aggressor when the then weak China was aggressed by Europe, USA and Japan for 100 hundred years and a now strong China is defending its territories. China is right to ignore the US on matters relating to China’s sovereignty.


      • . If it was China’s sovereignty, then yes! South China Sea has never been China’s – even educated Chinese know it and of course, everyone else knew all along!
        . Except for Japan, what Asian nation had not suffered hundred or more years of suffering? That’s no excuse to behave like those territorial expansionists/colonists!


      • I trust in another universal law.

        While some of the small folk still sucks up to, and backs up, soon they will realise they’re only in for the worse, when hanging around a Chinese, trying to sniff some fat communist’s foul air.

        DO NOT make the mistake, believing the world needs China. China needs the world!

        “China is defending its territories”

        Territories 2000 miles away from their communist poisoned turf and just a stone throw away from another country?

        Why don’t you just go out their, and claim the world. No, wait, the universe. It all belongs to this fricken China, right.

        Do yourself a favor, bury yourself in your communist dirt, and don’t step outside!


  3. ASEAN has a chance to stand up to China now. If they choose not to take advantage of the opportunity, they really have no grounds for complaint later, after China completes its move. They will be satellites of China, with no options, and I’m guessing that the U.S. will NOT come to their aid then (except for Japan).


  4. Well, China is in for a good run there. The hypocritical Thailand is already in China Trance. Thailand is not “Neutral”. Not at all. Wait what will happen to all their “Japanese” investors (now still Thailand’s major manufacturing force and reason why Thailand still has some kind of economy.

    Wait, not much longer, China will outnumber the investors stake, and then, then look at this worthless hypos again. No, Thailand is 101% on the China side and if you’d know and understand Thailand a little better, you’d agree to the fact that Thailand is just as a suppressing dictatorship country, if not worse, than China. (only smaller), with one difference:

    China is proud to be communist.
    Thailand is proud to be a hypocrite and much more sly, and, with a sickening “smile” on their faces.



  1. ASEAN members developing lucrative weapons industry in response to China | China Daily Mail
  2. Philippines warns China about vessels in disputed seas | China Daily Mail
  3. China plans nuclear submarines near US coast, miltary bases in South China Sea | China Daily Mail
  4. China building military base in the Spratly Islands to control entire South China Sea; drops plans to invade Philippines’ Zhongye Island | China Daily Mail
  5. Japan, US, ASEAN direct investment in China drops dramatically, as China considered less attractive | China Daily Mail
  6. Why the US should worry about Russia, not China | China Daily Mail
  7. Asean chief says ‘can’t accept’ China’s South China Sea claims | China Daily Mail
  8. Cadence of Conflict: Asia, August 10, 2015 | China Daily Mail

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