China says does not want South China Sea overshadowing summit

BEIJING/PHNOM PENH Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:03am EST

Fu Ying, China's Vice Foreign Minister, reacts as she attends a plenary session during the World Policy Conference at the historic Hofburg palace in Vienna December 10, 2011. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer

Fu Ying, China's Vice Foreign Minister, reacts as she attends a plenary session during the World Policy Conference at the historic Hofburg palace in Vienna December 10, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Herwig Prammer

Related Topics

BEIJING/PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - A regional summit in Cambodia should not be overshadowed by a dispute over the South China Sea as the situation is under control and countries involved can resolve differences themselves, a top Chinese diplomat said on Saturday.

China's assertion of sovereignty over the stretch of water off its south coast and to the east of mainland Southeast Asia has set it directly against Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also lay claim to parts, making it Asia's biggest potential military trouble spot.

But Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying said the dispute was well in hand, ahead of a meeting beginning this weekend of regional leaders in Cambodia attended by Southeast Asian heads of states as well as China's Premier Wen Jiabao and U.S. President Barack Obama.

"As soon as this region is bought up everyone thinks it's very dangerous, very turbulent, because of the South China Sea issue. In fact, over the past few years, China and the countries surrounding the South China Sea have successfully controlled the dispute and not let it intensify," Fu told reporters.

Asia's experience since the end of the Cold War of avoiding large-scale conflict showed that the South China Sea issue was also manageable, she said.

China, however, has resisted proposals for multilateral talks on the sea, preferring to try to negotiate disputes with each of the far less powerful individual claimants. It has also opposed Washington's attempts to get involved.

Unprecedented arguments over a push to introduce a code of conduct, or common approach, to territorial tension with China led to the collapse of a summit of Southeast Asian leaders in July, preventing the issuing of a joint communique by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the first time in its 45-year history.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said such disarray within the bloc could not be repeated.

"We cannot allow ourselves the luxury of a similar disunity," Natalegawa said in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.

"It is bad for all involved, not only for ASEAN, it's even bad for China as well. So I think ASEAN and China are on the same boat literally on the South China Sea."


Officials at the summit are playing down any hope of progress on the code of conduct, though Indonesia proposed a hot line be set up between ASEAN nations and China for use in the event of any incidents.

"We have to be able to pick up the phone to share with another what had happened and how we can manage and contain the issue," Natalegawa said.

The stakes have risen in the area as the U.S. military shifts its attention and resources back to Asia, emboldening its long-time ally the Philippines and former foe Vietnam to take a tougher stance against Beijing.

Fu said over the past few years there had been a "phenomenon" of the South China Sea issue being "hyped up" whenever there was a regional or international meeting involving China and its ASEAN neighbors.

"Shattering the peaceful atmosphere in this way gives people the wrong impression."

"The dispute's resolution still has to come from talks with the countries directly involved. China and ASEAN are confident they can maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, and we have already proved that we can do this," Fu said.

"We also hope that countries from outside the region, in other words countries which are not China or ASEAN members, can have faith in us. If you want to help, then do it in a positive way, and not interfere or provoke."

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

(Additional reporting by James Pomfret, Prak Chan Thul and Manny Mogato in Phnom Penh; Editing by Robert Birsel)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (5)
Free_Pacific wrote:
China knows that it will be a major issue. They know the situation is ‘well in hand’ as they have driven off and confiscated so much territory so far, but have the means to hold it. This is what the CCP calls ‘well in hand’.

Panatag, a shoal (almost 1,000km from mainland China) with rocks barely visible, has since had barriers placed to stop other countries fisheries using the shoals lagoon (An aljazeera news team was driven away from the area by chinese ‘customs’ vessels when they tried approaching). In other locations, like Mishcief reef, 4 story concrete bunkers have been built on the shoal. Chinese ships are well documented in harrassing local fisherman. One even grounding itself within Filipino waters in the middle of this year, while they were chasing and harrassing Filipino fisherman. It had been documented for some time doing this, by Australian surveilance, before the grounding.

China is not an honsest actor and it will use it’s puppet like ally Cambodia, to once again bring disunity at ASEAN. If the dispute was well managed by ‘all countries concerned’, then the Filipino president wouldnt be saying the opposite before the meeting. The propoganda in this article by the CCP spokesperson, is totally at odds with reality. China knows this and is hopeing it can fool a world, where it’s cencorship can not reach, through statements and false claims like this.

Interesting how it mentions peace and stability in the asia pacific, something it has never been responsible for fostering (although it fostered communist insurgencies in places like Thailand, malaysia the Philippines for decades). It is a new player beyond it’s shores with it’s own forces in the industrial era, an era when it’s neighbours have not forgoten how it ran a tributary system during other dynasties.

China, you will not be allowed to fool us in the Pacific, all nations of the Pacific are coming together in the face of these lies and with the greed, hostility and aggression the CCP has been and still displays. There is only one major country causing crisis, in a region where all others work together. That country is China and it’s deceitful government, who is using nationalism to try and maintain it’s grip, expand it’s borders and subdue those further afield with propoganda.

Nov 17, 2012 1:17am EST  --  Report as abuse
Rhino1 wrote:
“This region can control and deal with crises through talks and negotiations, leading to peace and stability in the region. Only with these conditions can there be economic development.”

Oh, really, why are then Japanese cars destroyed in China, why are Japanese factories forced to close? Why are Japanese nationals hospitalized in Hongkong?

I don’t think, the Chinese government is dealing with this issue appropriately at all.

And while we are at it: Free Tibet!!!!!!!!!!!

Nov 17, 2012 2:21am EST  --  Report as abuse
ShiHeZiU wrote:
I’m a chinese student from an university called ShiHeZi at XinJiang province,west-north of China,It’s first time I’v been there and I just pass my CET4,so maybe you will see so many mistakes in may sentences.I’m sorry for that,and I hope you can understand me.
I study journalism there,so I know Ruters is word’s famoustest news agency,of couse,in my mind it’s spectator is better too.But I don’t think what I saw is good.
Year,Tibet is a problem inner our state,but it’s just a small thing,can not change our way to be a better country.The Tibet just has 2m people,include Han,It’s 1/3 of Israel’population,of couse,low low economical power than Isreal.You said “Free Tibet”?Maybe replace it with “Free XinJiang” is better,but that’s a small province too.You should understand there dream can be true only when our country is overthrowed.Even so they will be dominated by more “merciless” man too,because poor but autocratic warlord.So It’s better for them and us to be united.
Thank you.

Nov 17, 2012 3:54am EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.