Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gov't plays down ASEAN split over South China Sea

Gov't plays down ASEAN split over South China Sea

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) shakes hands with Prime Minister Hun Sen upon his arrival at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh earlier this month. Afp

Gov't plays down ASEAN split over South China Sea

The Cambodian government yesterday sought to downplay reports of a split within ASEAN over the ongoing South China Sea dispute.

China’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday announced that China had reached an agreement with Cambodia, Laos and Brunei that countries should deal with China individually in the dispute rather than as a bloc.

ASEAN secretary-general Le Luong Minh yesterday expressed concern that any such development would be a deviation from a 2012 agreement that ASEAN member countries would negotiate as a unified body.

“An ASEAN country cannot negotiate with China on disputes that involve also other ASEAN countries,” Luong Minh told Singapore-based Channel NewsAsia.

Chinese Embassy spokesman Cheng Hongbo yesterday declined to comment, referring reporters to reports by Chinese state media CCTV, which described a “significant consensus” that had been reached during Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s whistle-stop tour of Cambodia, Laos and Brunei.

CCTV reported the points of agreement were that the dispute was between individual nations, rather than China and ASEAN as a whole; that those countries should be left to settle the dispute by themselves; that they should do so without use or threats of force; and that China and the ASEAN nations should cooperate to ensure peace in the South China Sea.

However, Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan insisted no new deal had been reached over the weekend.

“There’s been no agreement or discussions, just a visit by a Chinese foreign minister,” said Siphan, referring to Yi’s visit to Phnom Penh on Friday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker. A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release