[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
US plunges into China-ASEAN maritime talks
Hillary Clinton in Cambodia to urge China to accept South China Sea pact meant to ease tension in vital shipping lane.
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2012 06:19

Washington is hoping China will accept a code of conduct for resolving territorial disputes in the resource-rich South China Sea, a difficult mediation effort that has often been rebuffed by the communist government.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, is meeting on Thursday with China's foreign minister on the sidelines of a Southeast Asian conference.

Governments in the region are increasingly worried about Beijing's expansive maritime claims, and Chinese tensions with the Philippines and Vietnam have threatened to boil over.

Speaking to foreign ministers gathered in Cambodia, Clinton said the US is not taking sides. She added that  Washington wants to ensure freedom of navigation and peace.

China and the US are closely entwined economically and increasingly on the diplomatic front, but they have clashed repeatedly over issues ranging from Tibet and Taiwan to trade and the value of the Chinese currency.

Conduct code

The 10 members of Southeast Asian regional body ASEAN have been trying to agree a long-stalled "code of conduct" for the disputed South China Sea, home to vital shipping lanes, to help settle overlapping claims.

The Philippines is leading a push for ASEAN to unite and draw up a code based on a UN law on maritime boundaries that would delineate the areas belonging to each country. Beijing is unlikely to accept this, however.

This push came as Beijing invited bids for exploration of oil blocks in waters claimed by Vietnam, which sparked protests on the streets of Hanoi.

China's assertiveness in the resource-rich South China Sea is seen by analysts as pushing anxious neighbouring countries closer to the United States.

China blasts Clinton

China's top newspaper slammed Clinton on Thursday for comments she made lauding democracy and implicitly criticising restrictions in China, saying those Asian countries that ape US democracy were doomed to fail.

In China's first response to her remarks, ruling Communist Party mouthpiece The People's Daily said Clinton was acting as a "preacher for human rights" by praising certain countries to obliquely attack China.

The newspaper added that Asian countries were now booming, unlike Western countries stuck in the morass of economic crisis, proving they could go down "a path different from the West and create political systems which suit their national characteristics".

Earlier this week, Clinton held up Mongolia's sometimes messy politics as a democratic model for Asia. While she did not directly name China, her comments appeared aimed partly at Beijing.

The sea hosts about a third of the world's cargo traffic, has rich fishing grounds and is believed to store vast oil and gas reserves.

423

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.