ASEAN Summit Calls for ‘Positive And Constructive’ Relations with China
April 27, 2015 (EIRNS) — The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) ended its meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with a call to “continue to engage China in a constructive way.” Host Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak had previously said in his address opening today’s summit that ASEAN must deal with the issue in a “positive and constructive way.”
With all ten ASEAN countries being founding members of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the focus of the meeting was on the various projects and proposals for developing the region as a whole as part of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative.
But, media attention was fixated on relations with China and the South China Sea. While Nabij did say “Given the importance of its sea lanes to international trade, it is natural that almost any occurrence there will attract global attention,” he continued, “We will continue to engage China in a constructive way, and China understands our position. …we hope to be able to influence China that it’s also in their interests not to be seen as confronting ASEAN, and that any attempt to destabilize this region will not benefit China either.”
The Philippines position, however, stood out like a sore thumb: During today’s plenary session, Philippine President Benigno Aquino stated, “The massive reclamation activities undertaken by China pose a threat to the security and stability of the region, cause irreparable damage to the marine environment, and threaten the livelihood of many of our peoples…. China’s activities likewise pose a threat to the freedom of global commerce and navigation.”
Chinese news agency Xinhua ran a commentary by its write Deng Yushan on “firebrand” Aquino, that said: “ASEAN is not a party in any of the complicated South China Sea disputes…. That does not mean that ASEAN has nothing to do with the South China Sea issue. On the contrary, like China it has a high stake in keeping the vital body of water calm and placid. For that it has a ready partner in Beijing, which has pledged to work with ASEAN to safeguard South China Sea peace and security and formulate a code of conduct….
“ASEAN and China — economically intertwined, culturally affinitive and both committed to common development and regional prosperity — have more important business to do. They have agreed to seize “the diamond decade” to further boost win-win cooperation….
“With ASEAN sitting on a hub of the ancient Maritime Silk Road, the China-proposed 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative is infusing bilateral cooperation as well as ASEAN integration with new opportunities and fresh vigor.
“Thus now is a time for ASEAN to set the eyes on the big picture of community-building and advance integration and development for the benefit of both the bloc itself and the broader region. It is no time to allow someone to put a stick in the wheels.”
One the other hand, Capt. Mike Parker, U.S. Navy commander in charge of monitoring activity in the South China Sea, pushed for confrontation. He told Japan’s NHK and other media, that he hopes Japan’s Self-Defense Forces will also take part in surveillance in South China Sea surveillance.