Friday, July 15, 2016

Asian, European nations struggle to find common ground on S. China Sea

Asian and European countries at a summit Friday struggled to iron out differences over how to manage maritime disputes and it is now uncertain if they can come up with a common message on that in a statement to be issued after the two-day meeting ends Saturday.

The Asia-Europe Meeting in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator, attended by leaders or high-level representatives of more than 50 countries and organizations, comes days after an international tribunal ruled that China's claims to historic and economic rights in most of the South China Sea have no legal grounds.

Senior officials from the European Union and such countries as Australia, Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam have pressed for the South China Sea issue and the court's ruling Tuesday to both be mentioned in the chair's statement, according to diplomatic sources with direct knowledge of the situation.

  • But Chinese officials, in particular, opposed the idea, saying the biennial summit should focus on economic cooperation between Asia and Europe, and it not an appropriate forum to address the South China Sea issue, the sources said.

On the first day of the summit, the leaders, including Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, did not debate major security issues as a session for them is slated for Saturday.

  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, however, said in part of his remarks that "it is necessary to have a peaceful resolution for affairs involving the South China Sea," a key international shipping route that is also believed to hold large oil and gas deposits.

  • "We should attach great importance to the rule of law and hold onto the principle of not tolerating any attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force," Abe said.

The case brought by the Philippines in 2013 to challenge China's expansive claims in the disputed sea has been seen by many major countries as a test of Beijing's commitment to a rules-based international order.

But immediately after the Permanent Court of Arbitration announced the ruling, China, as widely expected, angrily rejected the verdict, saying it is "null and void" and without "binding force."

Chinese officials even termed the case as a "completely political farce under the pretext of law" and argued that the decision by the tribunal was manipulated by countries such as Japan and the United States, which have no claims in the South China Sea.

Even if the chair's statement fails to touch specifically on the ruling, the officials said they want their leaders to at least send a message to the rest of the world that maritime disputes should be settled by peaceful means in line with the universally recognized principles of international law, including the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, known also as UNCLOS.

The tribunal in The Hague is constituted by the 1982 U.N. convention.

  • The summit, which this time was chaired by Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, opened with a moment of silence for the at least 84 people killed in an apparant terror attack on Thursday in the French resort city of Nice.

The leaders strongly condemned recent terrorist attacks, including one that took place at a restaurant in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka on July 1, in which nine Italians and seven Japanese were among the 20 hostages killed.

Aside from political issues, the meeting is the first opportunity for European and Asian leaders to discuss together how best to shield the global economy from the fallout of Britain's vote last month to leave the European Union.

China's excess capacity in steel and other industries, despite weak demand at home and abroad, is intensifying concerns as well especially among European countries.

While China has pledged to press ahead with its oft-repeated "supply-side reform," major economies believe that Chinese state-owned steelmakers and other producers are distorting global market prices.


No comments :

Post a Comment

Only News

Featured Post

“The U.S. must stop supporting terrorists who are destroying Syria and her people" : US Congresswoman, Tulsi Gabbard

US Congresswoman, Tulsi Gabbard, recently visited Syria, and even met with President Bashar Al-Assad. She also visited the recently libe...

Blog Widget by LinkWithin