South China Sea takes center stage at U.S.-ASEAN summit

admin   •   February 16, 2016   •   2864

U.S. President Barack Obama makes opening remarks at the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California February 15, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Barack Obama makes opening remarks at the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California February 15, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Barack Obama and allies from Southeast Asia will turn their attention to China on Tuesday on the second day of a summit intended to improve commercial links and provide a united front on maritime disputes with Beijing.

After a first day focused on trade and economic issues, Obama and his counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will try to arrive at a common position on the South China Sea during a second day of talks at Sunnylands, a California resort.

China and several ASEAN states have conflicting and overlapping claims in the South China Sea, but not all the Southeast Asian nations agree on how to handle them.

U.S. officials want the summit to produce a statement calling for China to follow international law and handle disputes peacefully.

“We will be continuing to work with our ASEAN partners on a potential statement that we might issue together,” White House national security adviser Susan Rice told reporters on Monday.

“We obviously have issued such statements in the past with ASEAN, and in it we consistently underscore our shared commitment to a peaceful resolution of disputes, freedom of commerce and navigation, the rule of law, and the necessity of disputes being resolved through peaceful, legal means.”

Obama is expected to address the issue during a news conference at the conclusion of the summit around 1:30 PST (2100 GMT.)

Though China dominated the summit, the White House emphasized non-China related aspects, such as strengthening commercial ties. The chief executives of IBM, Microsoft and Cisco were brought into Monday’s private sessions with the leaders to help make the point.

“The potential for deepening our economic engagement is tremendous,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said. Monday’s discussions with the “private sector partners” ranged from the need for capital to creating an entrepreneurial culture in Asia that is prepared to tolerate business failure.

But even business leaders were watching the South China Sea issue.

“What keeps us up at night is that one of the big tension areas is the South China Sea,” said Alexander Feldman, president of the U.S. ASEAN Business Council.

“We would like as a business community to see those differences and overlapping claims be addressed in a way that is done though discussion rather than military confrontation.”

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom, editing by Larry King)

ASEAN leaders push for cessation of Myanmar coup crisis

Robie de Guzman   •   April 26, 2021

The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have reached a five-point consensus on the Myanmar coup crisis during their meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia over the weekend.

In a joint statement, ASEAN leaders demanded, “immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar and (that) all parties shall exercise utmost restraint.”

“Constructive dialogue among all parties shall commence to seek a peaceful solution in the interests of the people,” the statement read.

A special envoy of the ASEAN chair shall “facilitate mediation of the dialogue process, with the assistance of the Secretary-General of ASEAN,” in Myanmar, the Southeast Asian bloc added.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah from Brunei is the current chair of the regional bloc.

“The special envoy and delegation shall visit Myanmar to meet with all parties concerned,” it said.

“ASEAN shall provide humanitarian assistance through the AHA Center,” it added.

More than 700 people have been killed since the military coup in Myanmar began on February 1.

In a separate statement, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the five-point consensus reached by the ASEAN leaders seek to improve the situation in Myanmar.

Locsin stressed that Brunei’s role as ASEAN chairperson “puts it in a strong position to lead ASEAN as it offers assistance to Myanmar in ending violence, restoring peace, and facilitating its return to political normalcy.”

The regional bloc also reiterated calls for the immediate release of political prisoners in Myanmar, as well as the importance of Myanmar’s continued efforts to address the situation in Rakhine State, including the repatriation of Rohingya Muslim minority group.

Some one million Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh, and the ASEAN leaders said their repatriation should be done in a safe and dignified manner in accordance with its bilateral agreements with Bangladesh.

In response to the ASEAN leaders’ call, Myanmar’s newly former National Unity Government welcomed the five-point consensus on the coup crisis, and stressed that they are waiting for a firm action by ASEAN to de-escalate the conflict.

“We eagerly await the engagement by the ASEAN Secretary General as mandated by this meeting. We look forward to a firm action by ASEAN to follow up it decisions and restore our democracy for our people and for the region,” it said.

Myanmar’s Chairman of the State Administration Council, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, also said that his country is focused on restoring peace and stability to improve the current situation, and that they would consider ASEAN’s positive and sound proposals, taking into account their domestic situation.

The ASEAN leaders’ meeting held on April 24 was presided by Bolkiah, and attended by Hlaing, ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, and Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai.

President Rodrigo Duterte skipped the summit but he designated Locsin as his Special Envoy to the meeting. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

PSC recommends to postpone 2020 ASEAN Paragames due to nCoV threat

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 6, 2020

The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has announced that they will recommend the postponement of the 2020 Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) Paragames due to the novel coronavirus threat.

“The PSC has recommended to postpone the 11-nation, multi-sport event in consideration of the novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (nCoV-ARD) medical issue,” the statement reads.

The sports agency said they will leave the decision to the Philippine Paralympic Committee (PPC) which would also need to consult with the ASEAN Paralympic Sports Federation (APSF).

The Paragames was originally scheduled in January but was moved to March.

Meanwhile, the PSC also announced the postponement of PSC-managed events such as the National Sports Summit 2020, Philippine National Games, Children’s Games, and other activities.—AAC

Trump invites Duterte, other ASEAN leaders for March Summit

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 20, 2020

ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings in Manila epa06325844 US President Donald J. Trump (L) talks to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (R) before the opening ceremony of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila, Philippines,13 November 2017. The Philippines is hosting the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings from 10 to 14 November. EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO / POOL

United States (US) President Donald Trump has invited President Rodrigo Duterte and nine other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) for the US-ASEAN Summit in March.

Trump previously invited the ASEAN leaders on November 1, 2019 and reiterated his invitation on January 9, 2020.

“This will provide an excellent opportunity for us to broaden and deepen our cooperation on matters of great importance to the nearly one billion people in the United States and ASEAN nations that we have the privilege to represent,” Trump said in his invitation.

However, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said there is still no official response on whether President Duterte will accept the invitation of the US president.—AAC

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