Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Claims on South China Sea face limitations

Claims on South China Sea face limitations

Claims on South China Sea face limitations

120711_02
ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan (centre) takes part in an ASEAN meeting yesterday at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan (centre) takes part in an ASEAN meeting yesterday at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

A UN maritime convention that puts limits on claims in disputes over territorial waters should be the basis for negotiations over the South China Sea, ASEAN foreign ministers agreed in a draft document signed yesterday.

China is locked in a dispute over the South China Sea with several countries attending this week’s ASEAN Regional Forum in Phnom Penh, but has nevertheless yielded influence in drafting an ASEAN Code of Conduct on the issue.

The burgeoning superpower is unlikely to be thrilled by moves to make the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea the basis of negotiations, which it is a signatory to but which would likely conflict with its claim to almost all of the disputed waters.

“UNCLOS has been there all along, even in the declaration back in 2002 here. UNCLOS is one of the pillars of international negotiations, international relations,” outgoing ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said on the sidelines of the forum yesterday.

Pitsuwan said in formulating the COC, ASEAN was taking norms adopted from the outside world and transferring them to the regional context.

“We are not inventing the wheel, but at the same time, by putting them together as our own body of rules and regulations and norms, we are making it, I think, more credible and more legitimate,” he said.

Taiwan and ASEAN members the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia all make rival claims on areas of the sea.

Cambodia has traditionally supported China’s claim over the waters, but government officials were tight-lipped about the issue yesterday.

“You only focus on the South China Sea. Why don’t you focus also on the co-operation? On the many important issues?” Foreign Affairs secretary of state Seung Rathchavy asked reporters.

When quizzed about the South China Sea after giving a vague and rapid press briefing, Foreign Ministry secretary of state Kao Kim Hourn gave a brusque answer and abruptly marched out of a press briefing.

“Very briefly, one of the ministers just touched on the need to . . . work toward the COC. That’s all that was talked about, very briefly,” he said before leaving.

He promptly returned after realising he had left without giving the Khmer-language version of the briefing.

With assistance from David Boyle

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince injured, wife dies after accident

    THE wife of former First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Ouk Phalla, 39, died while the prince was “severely” injured following a road accident in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nub district on Sunday morning, officials said. Rananriddh, who is also the president of the Funcinpec

  • Guards protest dismissals, reject claims of sharing naked photos of child

    Some 20 former security guards at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh protested on Tuesday against their dismissal. They accused their employers of falsely claiming they had viewed and shared child pornography from their mobile phones as grounds for their termination. In total, 32 personnel were dismissed

  • Bun Heang mocks US, threatens its citizens in scathing open letter

    After being hit with sanctions from the US Department of Treasury, Cambodian General Hing Bun Heang said he would retaliate against any US national who does not respect his country’s sovereignty, has ambitions to invade Cambodia or incites “traitors” in the Kingdom to do

  • Funcinpec urges probe into deadly Preah Sihanouk accident

    THE Funcinpec party has urged the government, especially the Ministry of Interior, to investigate the traffic accident in Preah Sihanouk province which left Prince Norodom Ranariddh badly injured and his wife Ouk Phalla dead. Funcinpec Vice President You Hokry told reporters at Botum Votey pagoda,