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South China Sea likely to feature at ASEAN Summit in Laos

Filipino and Vietnamese protesters display anti-China placards and Vietnamese national flags last month in Manlia during a call on China to respect their rights in the disputed South China Sea. Ted Aljibe/AFP
Filipino and Vietnamese protesters display anti-China placards and Vietnamese national flags last month in Manlia during a call on China to respect their rights in the disputed South China Sea. Ted Aljibe/AFP

South China Sea likely to feature at ASEAN Summit in Laos

Prime Minister Hun Sen today leads a delegation of high-level officials to Laos for the start of the 29th ASEAN Summit.

The event is considered of special import as it comes in the wake of a July international court ruling that determined the so-called “nine-dash line” – the demarcation line used by China to lay claim to parts of the South China Sea – was inconsistent with international law relating to maritime resources.

In Laos, officials from the US, Australia and Japan, including US President Barack Obama, are expected to push for China to adhere to the court ruling, and for Cambodia to support it, too. Cambodia has repeatedly supported China’s push for strictly bilateral negotiations on the topic.

“Cambodia has gained a reputation as a spoiler of ASEAN taking a stronger stand on the South China Sea,” defence researcher Greg Raymond said yesterday.

“This has become very evident since the 2012 fiasco when ASEAN could not issue a joint communiqué, and was again evident in the Kunming meeting before the ruling on the 12th of July,” he said, referencing a recent instance in which Cambodia kept the issue from appearing in a joint statement.

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