China-ASEAN: ASEAN may stay divide on South China Sea dispute

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China-ASEAN: ASEAN may stay divide on South China Sea dispute

PHNOM PENH, June 20, (APP): China-ASEAN: ASEAN may stay divide on South China Sea dispute

 

Cambodian Premier Hun Sen lashed out Monday at claims his government had bowed to Chinese pressure to help scupper a joint statement by Southeast Asian nations on the South China Sea.

 

In an angry speech Hun Sen also accused an international court of political bias as it prepares to rule on a sea dispute between the Philippines and China.

 

The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration is widely expected to rule against Beijing when it delivers its verdict in the coming weeks.

 

Last week a meeting of foreign ministers from China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Kunming ended in chaos and renewed allegations of regional bullying by Beijing.

 

The diplomatic fracas erupted when Malaysia released a joint statement from ASEAN members voicing "serious concerns" at land reclamation and other activities.

 

The strongly-worded statement did not name China but clearly referred to its extensive island-building.

 

But the statement was suddenly retracted for reasons that have yet to be fully explained.

 

The incident was seen as another example of ASEAN's inability to present a united front to China as it ramps up its presence in the waterway.

 

Several news outlets have quoted ASEAN diplomatic sources as saying that Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar -- historically China's strongest regional allies -- were instrumental in scuppering the consensus statement.

Hun Sen described those claims as "unacceptable".