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Asean Affairs   14 June  2011

Sea dispute creating ripples

By  David Swartzemtruber

AseanAffairs     14 June 2011

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The South China Sea dispute that involves China, Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and japan is beginning to spread ripples, perhaps waves, across the globe.

US Senator Jim Webb, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on East Asia, said he was introducing a bill that would denounce China for the use of force and urge it to seek a peaceful resolution to disputes.

"I think we in our government have taken too weak of a position on this," Webb, a member of President Barack Obama's Democratic Party from Virginia, said at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The United States generally does not take positions on territorial disputes in which it is not directly involved.

In another development in the sea scenario, the Philippines has reasserted its position over the Spratly Islands and given the South China Sea its own moniker.

“The (Aquino) administration has also always called for a peaceful, multilateral settlement with regard to contested claims in the West Philippine Sea, along the lines of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and applicable international laws, notably the UNCLOS [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas],” spokesman Lacierda added.

The Vietnamese refer to the South China Sea as the East Sea.

China and Japan, Asia's two largest economies, have a longstanding dispute over the islands known as the Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese. Last year, the dispute flared up when Japan last briefly detained a Chinese captain after a clash at sea.

During the crisis, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said that the islands fell under the scope of the 1960 security treaty that requires the United States to defend Japan from aggression, remarks that angered China.

It would seem that the only way to settle this multi-party dispute would be through an international multilateral conference. However, China maintains it wants to negotiate with each country individually in a David-Goliath scenario.

This long-standing dispute may well persist into the 22nd century.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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