Cambodia blocking Asean sea consensus – diplomat


VIENTIANE: Staunch China ally Cambodia is preventing Southeast Asia from reaching a consensus on the West Philippine Sea [South China Sea] after an international tribunal rejected Beijing’s territorial claims to the waters, a diplomat said on Saturday.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is meeting in Laos for the first time since the UN-backed tribunal ruled earlier this month that China did not have historic rights to vast swathes of the strategic sea.

The issue is expected to overshadow the summit, with several of the 10 member states also claiming territory in the contested waters.

China invests heavily across Asean but is accused of trying to divide the bloc by habitually offering aid, soft loans and diplomatic support to key allies Laos and Cambodia.

A Southeast Asian diplomat told Agence France-Presse on Saturday that only Cambodia is standing in the way of a joint statement on the waters.

“It’s very grave. Cambodia just opposes almost everything, even reference to respect for legal and diplomatic processes which already has been in previous statements,” the diplomat said.

A draft of the communiqué obtained by Agence France-Presse showed the section titled “South China Sea” currently blank.

Communist-ruled Laos also has close links with Beijing and has been accused of preventing a united front on the South China Sea issue.

But diplomats said as the chair of Asean this year Laos is trying to see a statement produced even if it is watered down.

“It does not need to take sides because even if only one country opposes, there is no consensus,” the diplomat told Agence France-Presse.

Another regional diplomat said Friday that negotiations appeared to be at a deadlock.
“At this point positions are locked. Cambodia has taken a hard line. Laos is hiding behind its role Asean chairman and not saying anything but at the same time it is careful not to offend China,” the diplomat said.

Chinese pressure was blamed last month for a startling show of discord by bloc, with countries swiftly disowning a joint statement released by Malaysia after an Asean-China meeting.

That statement had expressed alarm over Beijing’s activities in the South China Sea.
The Philippines brought the international arbitration case against China, while fellow Asean members Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei also have competing claims to parts of the sea.

In 2012 Asean foreign ministers failed to release a joint statement for the first time at the end of their annual gathering, with the Philippines blaming event host Cambodia for blocking criticism of China.



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  1. Mother Nature will submerge mainland China with an area exactly equal to the area of the South China Sea which the Chinese grabbed for its own greedy exploitation.

    Why? Because, The Philippines is a peaceful and peace-loving nation ever since its creation in the 19th century.

    Nations who invaded/colonised the Philippines in the past have been degraded into the dustbin of history.

    China had invaded and illegally grabbed the waters and exclusive economic seas owned by the Philippines.

    In doing so, China will suffer not from war nor from any military battle.

    No. But, China will experience the wrath of Mother Nature in which floods will overwhelmingly submerge it that the current Chinese Communist Government will implode towards its own oblivion.

  2. If Cambodia and Laos cannot tow the line of the other eight ASEAN members due to their self-interest, GET LOST then. Do as the Brits did, EXIT ASEAN NOW!!!

  3. That’s one puzzling question co-reader… Is there really no majority ruling for every ASEAN issue, stand or anything that concerns the rest of the bloc? Why Cambodia and Laos can go againts other ASEAN members as in VETO power of the United Nations’ Security Council? Well, Cambodia is 60% reliant on foreign assistance and support. Imagine, they are that poor compared to the others but posses a very powerful veto privilege? The hell with you HUN SEN. Be real statesman….

  4. Do not ruin the decision of the majority . . . the ‘Consensus: into “Majority”. Cambodia acting only for their self interest and not for the benefit of the whole bloc. So why Consensus issue it as a Majority Decision.

  5. Everytime China is concerned Cambodia (and Laos) is more inclined to protect the interest of China than the interest of the ASEAN. I think it would be better for them to separate from the ASEAN .

    • Agree. These two countries should be annexed by China then the later do not have to get South China sea.

  6. Does the “rule of the majority” not valid for the ASEAN organization? Why can’t the majority just rule anyway over the objections of one or two countries?

    When one says “consensus” does it mean only 100% agreement? Can it not mean also that the majority rules?