World / US and Canada

Analysis: ASEAN states to avoid risks as statement drops China

By ZHANG YUNBI ( Updated: 2016-02-17 14:15

After a two-day gathering, leaders of the US and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states released a joint statement that avoided directly naming China as observers said most ASEAN countries understand the risks brought about by the US flexing its muscles in the region.

The document was issued as the meeting at the Sunnylands retreat in California ended on Tuesday.

US officials had been hoping to arrive at a common position on the South China Sea, however, "not all ASEAN members" agree on how to handle the disputes in the South China Sea, Reuters reported.

The US and ASEAN countries endorsed a "shared commitment to peaceful resolution of disputes, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, without resorting to the threat or use of force", the statement said.

It did not include the specific mention that Washington had been seeking regarding China, Reuters noted.

Zhou Yongsheng, professor on international relations at China Foreign Affairs University, said Washington has long been subscribing to double standards on the South China Sea issue, and the ASEAN countries rejected such a statement as "they foresee a dangerous prospect of US military provocations in the region".

Washington stirred tension in the South China Sea at the end of January when a US navy destroyer intruded in Chinese territorial waters off the Xisha Islands. It was quickly forced away by the Chinese military.

Zhou observed that most ASEAN member states remain neutral toward US-China tensions, and are concerned that their support to the US flexing muscles could lead to flared disputes or increased tension in the South China Sea region.

"In that sense, the balance of the region will be at risk, and the situation will not be conducive to themselves," Zhou said.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told a working dinner of the leaders on Monday night that China's role in the region is expected to grow, the Singapore-based Channel News Asia reported.

Loong said China's larger presence will likely lead to occasional friction, uncertainties and anxieties, including in the South China Sea, but these issues must be managed peacefully to preserve regional stability and security.

Reuters and AP contributed to this story.

Trudeau visits Sina Weibo
May gets little gasp as EU extends deadline for sufficient progress in Brexit talks
Ethiopian FM urges strengthened Ethiopia-China ties
Yemen's ex-president Saleh, relatives killed by Houthis
Most Popular
Hot Topics