Southeast Asian nations were battling today to find a compromise on how to deal with Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea. Diplomats involved in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN, Foreign Ministers meet told a news agency that they failed to release a joint statement as scheduled yesterday evening with Cambodia lobbyed hard for Beijing. They said, the tense follow-up negotiations this morning could still not end the stand-off.
The tense talks came after Vietnam, which also claims parts of the strategically vital sea, insisted that tough language be inserted into the statement expressing concern over Chinese land reclamation in the contested waters.
One of the diplomats said, Vietnam is adamant and China is effectively using Cambodia to champion its interests. Cambodia, one of China’s strongest allies within ASEAN, had firmly resisted. They said, Philippines is trying very hard to broker compromise language.
China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, including waters approaching the coasts of ASEAN members Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. China has in recent years expanded its presence in the sea by building artificial islands, which are capable of holding military bases.