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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        18  June 2011

Vietnam, US call for free sea movement

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The United States and Vietnam on Friday jointly called for freedom of navigation and rejected the use of force in the South China Sea, amid simmering tensions between Beijing and its neighbors.

After talks in Washington, the two former war foes said that "the maintenance of peace, stability, safety and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea is in the common interests of the international community."

"All territorial disputes in the South China Sea should be resolved through a collaborative, diplomatic process without coercion or the use of force," the two countries said in a joint statement.

Disputes have flared in recent weeks in the South China Sea, with Vietnam holding live-fire military exercises after accusing Chinese ships of ramming an oil survey ship and cutting the exploration cables of another one.

China staged its own three days of military exercises in the South China Sea, which state media said was aimed at boosting the country's offshore maritime patrol force.

"The US side reiterated that troubling incidents in recent months do not foster peace and stability within the region," the statement said.

It said that the incidents "raise concerns about maritime security, especially with regard to freedom of navigation, unimpeded economic development and commerce under lawful conditions, and respect for international law."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in remarks in July 2010 on a visit to Vietnam that were closely watched around Asia, said that the United States had a vital national interest in freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

China and Vietnam each claim the strategic Paracel Islands and Spratly archipelago.

China has myriad disputes in the potentially resource-rich sea with countries including Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. The Philippines said Friday that it was sending its aging naval flagship into the disputed waters.

Amid the tensions, China said Tuesday that it would not resort to the use of force in the South China Sea and urged other countries to "do more for peace and stability in the region."


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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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