Updated: 05/12/2014 12:41 | By Agence France-Presse

ASEAN alarm over China sea spat

Southeast Asian leaders have expressed "serious concern" over territorial disputes in the South China Sea, according to a statement released Monday, amid a growing row between Vietnam and Beijing over contested waters. 


ASEAN alarm over China sea spat

Heads of States and Governments join hands as they pose for a photograph at the start of the 24th ASEAN summit at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyidaw on May 11, 2014 - by Christophe Archambault

The communique from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) follows a summit on Sunday that was dominated by escalating maritime tensions.

"We expressed serious concerns over the ongoing developments in the South China Sea," the statement said.

ASEAN called on all parties involved to "exercise self-restraint, not to resort to threat(s) or use of force, and to resolve disputes by peaceful means in accordance with the universally recognized principles of international law".

The ASEAN meeting came just days after both Vietnam and the Philippines squared off against China in different areas of the disputed sea, which is home to key shipping lanes and thought to contain huge energy reserves.

Observers say the statement marks a change of tone by the regional bloc, many of whose members have close economic and political ties with China.

The statement "represents a slight tightening of ASEAN's position," said Vietnam expert Carl Thayer, adding it suggests a rare level of "consensus" on the vexed sea rights issue.

But "the fact that no party was mentioned -- conspicuously China -- is standard ASEAN fare," he added. 

Vietnam lobbied energetically at the meeting for a strong statement on the maritime issue from its regional neighbours.

In remarks to the summit, Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung urged his ASEAN counterparts to protest at China's controversial decision to move an oil drilling rig early this month into waters also claimed by Hanoi.

Reiterating accusations that Chinese vessels had then attacked Vietnamese ships in the disputed waters, he slammed Beijing's move as "extremely dangerous".

Dung also told the summit that Hanoi views the incident as a violation of international laws. 

The spat between Beijing and Hanoi, which drew a statement of concern from the UN, has stoked large anti-China protests in Vietnam.

China and Vietnam fought a brief border war in 1979 and the pair frequently trade diplomatic barbs over oil exploration, fishing rights and the contested Spratly and Paracel Islands.

Disputes with China present a delicate challenge to the ASEAN bloc, some of whose members are closely reliant politically and economically on Beijing.

In 2012 China's ally Cambodia caused consternation when it was ASEAN head by refusing to take Beijing to task over its assertive maritime stance.

Beijing asserts ownership over almost all of the South China Sea, which is also claimed in part by ASEAN members Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia as well as Taiwan.

Manila, which has asked a UN tribunal to rule on China's claims over most of the sea, also said last Wednesday it had detained a Chinese fishing boat in disputed territory.

The other ASEAN members are Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand.

Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn

NEWS VIDEOS

MORE NEWS VIDEOS

facebook recommendations

LIVE NEWS RADIO STREAMING

  • 938 Live

    938LIVE is Singapore's only English news and talk station which transmits round the clock with an engaging and enticing spread of programmes on current affairs, health, business and lifestyle as well as news every half hour until midnight.

  • Capital 958


    95.8FM城市频道的前身是"第三广播网"。上个世纪30年代末,新加坡就有中文广播,一路走来经过不少政治,社会局势的改变,中文广播在本地一直扮演举足轻重的角色。