Sea claimants’ meeting in US-ASEAN summit?

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – A meeting among claimants of the South China Sea might happen on the sidelines of the US-ASEAN summit in California to be attended by US President Barack Obama and President Benigno Aquino III, according to Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert del Rosario.

Asked as he was bidding farewell to the media on Wednesday, Del Rosario said “there might be plans” of a meeting among claimant countries of the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea.

He said, among the talking points to be discussed in the US-ASEAN meeting are maritime security, economic integration, and transnational concerns.

Four South China Sea claimants are members of ASEAN–Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

Del Rosario said he is hoping that the decision on the arbitration case filed by the Philippines against China on the maritime row will be out soon and that Beijing “will adhere to that decision.”

Obama is expected to deliver a tough message to China that disputes in the South China Sea must be resolved peacefully and not with a big nation “bullying” smaller neighbors, when he hosts the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in California on Monday and Tuesday.

“The president will call on all claimants to halt land reclamation, construction of new facilities and to carry out no militarization of outposts in the South China Sea,” Dan Kritenbrink, Obama’s top Asia adviser, told reporters in a conference call previewing the ASEAN talks.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of world trade is shipped every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.

The outgoing secretary, meanwhile, said their work in the DFA is not limited to the West Philippine Sea issue.

Del Rosario said the DFA, under his term from 2011 to 2015, has extended assistance to over 80,000 Filipinos. – With a report from Reuters

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  • Sir Dennis Ypon
    15 February 2016 at 10:16 am - Reply

    The Filipinos should protest more using the people power approach…just maybe the Chinese will get bullied out of the shoals, reefs, corals, islands, etc…