Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Beijing proposes drills with SE Asia




Beijing proposes drills with SE Asia

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (third left ) shakes hands with officials during the 51st Association of Southeast Asian Nations Ministerial Meeting in Singapore on Thursday. ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP

Beijing proposes drills with SE Asia

China wants to stage joint military exercises with Southeast Asian nations in disputed waters, according to a draft document, but insists other countries should be excluded in what analysts say is a bid to diminish the influence of the United States.

Beijing’s suggestions, which also call for joint oil and gas exploration, are part of efforts to expand its influence in the South China Sea, which it claims almost entirely, and push back at Washington which has backed countries with overlapping claims to the waters.

The move came as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touched down in Malaysia Thursday on the first leg of a regional tour in which simmering maritime tensions with Beijing are expected to feature prominently.

Pompeo will travel to Singapore on Saturday for talks with Asian and European Union (EU) counterparts on political and security issues in Asia-Pacific as the US seeks to promote its strategic vision for the pivotal region.

A code of conduct between Beijing and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to govern behaviour in the South China Sea has been years in the making.

The draft document, seen by AFP, outlines different countries’ bargaining positions as they work towards an agreement, and analysts said it represented some initial progress.

In the text, Vietnam offers the strongest opposition to Beijing’s activities – calling for countries to stop building artificial islands and establishing military installations.

But there was little sign of serious resistance from other countries, signalling how opposition to China’s aggressive expansion in the resource-rich waters has ebbed in recent years in Southeast Asia.

At a meeting of foreign ministers in Singapore on Thursday, Beijing and Asean announced they had agreed on the negotiating text for the code.

Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who is chairing the meeting, called the draft a “major achievement”.

“The code of conduct is meant to... ensure that peace, stability, confidence is built up so that we can continue to make collective progress between Asean and China while we take time to resolve the territorial disputes,” he said on Thursday.

However, it was too early to say when negotiations would be complete, he added.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims to China’s in the sea.

Tensions have escalated in recent years due to Beijing building artificial islands that can host military bases.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Phnom Penh underpass opens to ease traffic

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced a temporary opening of the 488m underpass at the Chaom Chao roundabout in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district, which was recently completed to connect traffic from National Road 4 to Russian Federation Blvd. The move is to reduce

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial