Southeast Asian nations feud over China sea claims

Vietnam urged other Southeast Asian nations to take a stronger stand against Chinese expansionism in the East Sea on Saturday, as a tense regional security forum began with North Korea also under fire over its nuclear program. Ahead of the launch of the annual gathering of foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Vietnam made a bold play against China with a raft of suggested changes to a planned joint communique. It set the stage for a fiery few days of diplomacy in the Philippine capital, with the top diplomats from China, the United States, Russia and North Korea to join their ASEANand other Asia-Pacific counterparts for security talks from Sunday. The meetings will take place as the United Nations Security Council votes this weekend on a U.S.-drafted resolution to toughen sanctions against North Korea to punish the isolated regime for its missile tests. The United States said it would also seek to build unified pressure on the North at the Manila event -- known as the ASEAN Regional Forum. After their own day of meetings on Saturday, ASEAN foreign ministers released a joint statement expressing "grave concerns" over the North's first two intercontinental ballistic missile tests that were conducted last month. "These developments seriously threaten peace, security and stability in the region and the world," the statement said. But on the East Sea (Vietnamese reference for the South China Sea) dispute -- one of Asia's other top powder keg issues -- there was far…... [read more]

ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh (Source: VNA) Hanoi (VNA) – ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh highlighted the bloc’s milestones during its 50 years of existence in an interview with Vietnam News Agency. Minh told reporters that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established in 1967 with only five members, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines. The purpose at that time was to deal with security-related risks amid the Cold War and the anti-US war in Indochina. The bloc then admitted Brunei in 1984, Vietnam in 1995, Laos and Myanmar in 1997 and Cambodia in 1999. These moves completed its initial target of connecting all Southeast Asian countries which are diverse in political institution, economic structure, cultural identity, language and religion. In 2003, the bloc issued the Declaration of ASEAN Concord II identifying the objective of establishing an ASEAN Community with three pillars of politics-security, economics and culture-society, Minh said, adding that the ASEAN Charter in 2007 created a legal foundation and institution framework for strengthening regional connectivity and for establishing the ASEAN Community in 2015. The most important milestone in ASEAN’s history was the establishment of the ASEAN Community in December 2015 and the launch of the ASEAN Vision 2025 towards a self-reliant, legal-binding and people –centered community on January 1, 2016, he added. [ASEAN – a rare sub-region organisation of solidarity: Deputy PM] Mechanisms including the ASEAN Regional Forum, East Asia Summit and Asia Plus Three are…... [read more]

Vietnam's Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago (Photo: VNA) Hanoi (VNA) – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) always supports the early approval of an effective and legally-binding Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC), the Foreign Ministry’s Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said at a regular press conference in Hanoi on August 3. Hang made the remarks while answering reporters’ queries about issues related to a framework agreement on the COC which is expected to be approved at the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and related meetings in the Philippine capital city of Manila. [Vietnam reaffirms importance of UNCLOS] “In accordance with ASEAN’s regulations, at this meeting, ASEAN and Chinese foreign ministers will consider the adoption of a framework agreement on the COC in the East Sea, which had been finalised at the ASEAN-China Senior Officials’ Meeting on the COC consultations,” she said. While evaluating the efficiency of the COC in resolving conflicts at sea, Hang said the common benefits of all ASEAN members and regional countries is maintaining peace, security and stability in the region and the East Sea. “Based on that foundation, ASEAN always agrees that it is necessary to have an effective and legally-binding COC in the East Sea as soon as possible to ensure peace, security, safety and freedom of navigation in the East Sea on the basis of observing international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS),” the spokeswoman stressed.-VNA ... [read more]

Tillerson is scheduled to participate in a series of meetings involving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Manila starting Saturday. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho is also expected to be at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), one of few international gatherings the communist country regularly attends. "The secretary has no plans to meet the North Korean foreign minister in Manila. I don't expect to see that happen," Susan Thornton, acting assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said in a teleconference previewing his upcoming trip. The U.S. continues to exert pressure on the North Korean regime to abandon its nuclear and missile programs, she quoted Tillerson as saying during a press conference Tuesday. He also reassured Pyongyang that Washington does not seek a regime change in the reclusive state and would be willing to hold talks "at some point."    Thornton said such talks could be possible in the future if North Korea indicates a willingness to enter into serious discussions about its denuclearization. "What we would expect to see this year at the meeting would be a general chorus of condemnation of North Korea's provocative behavior and pretty serious diplomatic isolation directed at the North Korean foreign minister," she said. Meanwhile, Kyodo news agency reported Thornton said that the U.S. will call for the suspension of North Korea's membership of the ARF as part of efforts to beef up pressure on the regime bent on developing missiles and nuclear weapons. It quoted Thornton…... [read more]

Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop (Source: ualm.org.au) Sydney (VNA) – Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop began her six-day visit to Thailand and the Philippines on August 2 to enhance the bilateral relations and promote Australia’s economic and security benefits in Southeast Asia. In Bangkok, Bishop is scheduled to meet with her Thai counterpart Don Pramudwinai and other Thai ministers and leaders to discuss measures to increase the role of Australia in political, economic and security issues. On this occasion, Australia will officially launch a new embassy in Bangkok, which is considered one of the biggest external events of Australia this year. She added that Australia and Thailand are celebrating the 65th anniversary of diplomatic ties in 2017. Thailand is the eighth biggest trade partner of Australia. In Manila, Bishop will attend the East Asia Summit, the ASEAN-Australia Ministerial Meeting, and the ASEAN Regional Forum along with activities to celebrate the 50th founding anniversary of the bloc. The meetings will focus discussion on major challenges in the region, including the East Sea matter, the Korean Peninsula, and terrorism. Bishop said she is co-chairing the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in Sydney of the New South Wales State in March 2018 to affirm the significant contributions of ASEAN to promoting regional peace and prosperity. Founded in 1967, ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.-VNA... [read more]

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh (Photo: VNA) Hanoi (VNA) – Over the past 50 years, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has clinched an important position that few sub-regions can, one of the greatest successes of the association, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh has told the media. Along with mechanisms fostering intra-bloc solidarity, the association has run mechanisms for major world powers to engage in the region, including in politics, security and defence, he said, stressing that this is unique to ASEAN and shows the value of the association in the region and the world. Through 50 years of formation and development, ASEAN has gained many achievements. It has united regional nations with differences in culture and political administration, creating an environment of peace, stability and friendship in the ASEAN Community, said Minh. He highlighted that from a group with poor and backward countries, ASEAN has become the most dynamic economic community in Asia-Pacific, creating a 630 million-strong market with total GDP of 3 trillion USD and 4.7 percent growth per year, the highest pace in the world. ASEAN has been attractive to economic partners thanks to free trade agreements, expanding its market to 3 billion people with total GDP of 20 trillion USD, he noted, saying this is an economic relationship that no other sub-region can boast. However, he also pointed out that ASEAN has faced numerous challenges, including unequal growth among member…... [read more]

Source from the Yonhap News Agency said Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha is to attend foreign ministerial meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) early next week in Manila, the Philippines. They include the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), a rare gathering attended by North Korea. "On the sidelines of the ASEAN meetings, we are arranging a trilateral meeting among the foreign ministers of South Korea, the U.S. and Japan," a ministry official told Yonhap News Agency on customary condition of anonymity. "We are pushing to hold such a meeting but the final timetable has yet to be confirmed. Finding a time that satisfies the three top diplomats with busy schedules is very hard," he added. They didn't hold trilateral talks during last year's ASEAN meetings in Laos. Seeking a three-way meeting is aimed at strengthening cooperation in dealing with the North in the wake of its recent missile provocations, he said. On Friday night, the North test-fired what it claimed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile, marking the second such provocation in a month. Kang is expected to have bilateral talks with her counterparts from around a dozen countries on the ASEAN meetings' sidelines including Japan, the U.S. and China. Keen attention is being placed on whether Kang will meet with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho. Though the foreign ministry here has not confirmed the matter, it has hinted that the door for an encounter remains open. Last year, there was a brief encounter between then Foreign…... [read more]

Source from the Yonhap News Agency said Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha is to attend foreign ministerial meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) early next week in Manila, the Philippines. They include the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), a rare gathering attended by North Korea. "On the sidelines of the ASEAN meetings, we are arranging a trilateral meeting among the foreign ministers of South Korea, the U.S. and Japan," a ministry official told Yonhap News Agency on customary condition of anonymity. "We are pushing to hold such a meeting but the final timetable has yet to be confirmed. Finding a time that satisfies the three top diplomats with busy schedules is very hard," he added. They didn't hold trilateral talks during last year's ASEAN meetings in Laos. Seeking a three-way meeting is aimed at strengthening cooperation in dealing with the North in the wake of its recent missile provocations, he said. On Friday night, the North test-fired what it claimed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile, marking the second such provocation in a month. Kang is expected to have bilateral talks with her counterparts from around a dozen countries on the ASEAN meetings' sidelines including Japan, the U.S. and China. Keen attention is being placed on whether Kang will meet with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho. Though the foreign ministry here has not confirmed the matter, it has hinted that the door for an encounter remains open. Last year, there was a brief encounter between then Foreign…... [read more]

Vision for Asia-Europe railway still dimLan Nhi HANOI – The vision to develop an integrated freight railway network across Europe and Asia to link Vietnam with the Eurasian Economic Union has encountered a slew of challenges. As the free trade agreement between Vietnam and the Eurasian Economic Union came into force last October, Kazakh Ambassador to Vietnam Beketzhan Zhumakhanov proposed developing a freight rail service from Vietnam to the union’s member states via China, and a Kazakhstan-Vietnam shipping route. The ambassador’s vision is to develop logistics services, thereby promoting goods trade between Vietnam and union members, as 90% of tariffs are cut. The diplomat had said then that the transport of containers by train from Hanoi via the Lao Cai border gate to Kunming-Nanning of China and then to Kazakhstan will take 18-20 days, compared to 40-45 days by sea. As such, goods via the rail service will see their competitive advantages rising. However, the limited trade volume between Vietnam and the Eurasian Economic Union can be seen a major hindrance to the development of the rail service. Data of Russian Railways shows Russia shipped more than 5,500 tons of goods to Vietnam, and imported around 326,000 tons from the Southeast Asian nation last year. Besides, the volume of goods from Russia to Vietnam was over 1,000 tons while the opposite direction was around 29,000 tons. Meanwhile, the respective figures for rail transit were about 169,000 tons and 770 tons. Russia is the largest market in the union, but its…... [read more]

In the article, Deputy PM Minh recalled the formation of ASEAN in Bangkok, Thailand, on August 8, 1967 with Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines as its founding members.  “ASEAN was born to create a firm foundation for common actions in order to enhance cooperation in Southeast Asia in the spirit of equality and partnership, contributing to peace and progress in the region,” he wrote.  After admitting Brunei in 1984, Vietnam in 1995, Laos and Myanmar in 1997, and Cambodia in 1999, ASEAN now brings together ten members. The first ASEAN Summit in 1976 demonstrated the group’s greater attention and stronger political commitments to regional cooperation.  The ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), which was established in 1992 as the outcome of the first 25 years of economic cooperation of the group, has created an important foundation for the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community.  Formed in 1994 in the spirit of promoting peace and security through dialogue and cooperation in Asia-Pacific, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) initiated dialogue and consultation mechanisms on security and political issues in the region, the Deputy PM added.  He also recalled the signing of the ASEAN Charter in 2007, turning ASEAN from a merely cooperation organisation into a legal entity.  Despite close geographical locations, the ASEAN member countries have different political systems, cultures, languages and development levels. However, the gaps have been narrowed and the establishment of the ASEAN Community on December 31,…... [read more]




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