Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kingdom reaffirms South China Sea stance

Kingdom reaffirms South China Sea stance

Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong
Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong (centre-top) talks with foreign diplomats yesterday at the Foreign Ministry, where they discussed the ongoing situation in the South China Sea. Vireak Mai

Kingdom reaffirms South China Sea stance

The government yesterday publicly pledged to support China’s position on settling South China Sea disputes, insisting that any resolution should be sought through direct negotiations and not involve the regional ASEAN political bloc.

Seung Rathchavy, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters after a closed-door meeting with 28 foreign diplomats yesterday that only those parties directly involved in the disputes should be included in the negotiations.

“Cambodia’s stance has not changed since the beginning [of the dispute]. It’s important that the issue of the South China Sea is resolved by all relevant parties implementing the [declaration of conduct],” she said, referring to an agreement signed by the ASEAN countries in Phnom Penh in 2002.

“The territorial claims have to be resolved by the involved parties. ASEAN cannot resolve this problem because we are not a court which can judge who is right or wrong, or which piece of land or water belongs to which country,” Rathchavy continued.

The comments came after Cambodian officials attended the 26th ASEAN summit in Malaysia, which wrapped up on April 27.

Rathchavy added that Cambodia was “neutral” on the issue and not biased in favour of China, which is the country’s largest foreign investor.

China claims about 90 per cent of the waters in the South China Sea and has for years said that ASEAN should not interfere in the dispute. Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei have all lodged competing claims to the strategic waters and islands.

In 2012, Cambodia chaired ASEAN and presided over a bitter row between the member states over the wording of a draft communique on maritime tensions. The states’ refusal to come to an agreement meant a statement was not released at the end of the summit for the first time since the 1960s.

The statement released after last week’s Malaysia summit noted that ongoing reclamation work in the South China Sea had “eroded trust and confidence”.

China, Cambodia’s closest ally in the region, provides substantial loans, aid and military support to the Kingdom and many of Cambodia’s most prominent tycoons have close links with Chinese businesses.

Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, said the disputes were “the internal affairs of China and ASEAN countries, so let them resolve it themselves”.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all