World Bulletin / News Desk
Southeast Asian nations feuded Sunday over how to respond to Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea, with Vietnam insisting on a tough stance but Cambodia lobbying hard for Beijing, diplomats said.
The ministers failed to release a customary joint statement after meeting on Saturday because of their differences on the sea issue, and follow-up negotiations on Sunday did not end the stand-off, two diplomats involved in the talks told AFP.
"There's still no consensus," one of the diplomats said, adding the disagreements over the wordings on the sea issue were holding up the release of the communique.
"Vietnam is adamant, and China is effectively using Cambodia to champion its interests. But the Philippines is trying very hard to broker compromise language."
Vietnam had insisted that tough language be inserted into the statement expressing concern over "land reclamation", a reference to an explosion in recent years of Chinese artificial island building in contested parts of the waters.
Cambodia, one of China's strongest allies within ASEAN, has firmly resisted, according to the diplomats involved in the talks in Manila, as well as an excerpt of proposed Cambodian resolution obtained by AFP on Sunday.
China claims nearly all of the sea, through which $5 trillion in annual shipping trade passes, and its artificial islands have raised concerns it could eventually build military bases there and establish de facto control over the waters.
Its sweeping claims overlap with those of ASEAN members Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Ağustos 2017, 15:16