Calls for self-restraint amid South China Sea tensions

2015-08-04 19:56
Asean (AP)

Asean (AP)

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Kuala Lumpur - South East Asian countries on Tuesday called for restraint over tensions in the South China Sea, where Beijing is building up installations on disputed maritime territory.

"It is imperative that this matter is handled constructively," said Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman at the end of the day-long meeting of his counterparts from the Association of the South East Asian Nations (Asean).

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario condemned the Chinese "massive reclamation" projects over the past year as "aggressive".

According to Beijing's announcements, "these will be used for purposes that would further heighten tensions and hostilities in the region", he said in a statement.

The Philippines fully supports the United States in calling for a halt to the reclamation and construction, he said.

Aside from the Philippines and China, other claimants to territories in the South China Sea are Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

China said it would not stop its construction in the disputed areas.

Freezing the projects was "unrealistic and will not work in practice," Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters during a stopover in Singapore, on his way to Asean meetings on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Asean ministers also discussed the recent boat people crisis in the South East Asian seas, where thousands of Bangladeshi and Myanmar Rohingya migrants have been stranded in rickety boats.

Anifah said the ministers emphasised the importance of identifying "the root causes and other contributory factors" of the problem.

Many Rohingya say they are driven to migrate with the help of people smugglers by the conditions in Myanmar, where they are considered immigrant Bengalis and excluded from citizenship.

Delgates also underscored the urgency of timely preparation as the regional bloc moves to become a single market at the end of the year.

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

Read more on:    asean  |  china  |  malaysia
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