Posts Tagged ‘Association of Southeast Asian Nations’

Terrorists’ Digital Messages Target of ASEAN, Australia, pact

March 17, 2018

(Bloomberg) — Terrorists operating in Southeast Asia will be targeted in a pan-regional pact designed to enhance intelligence sharing and disrupt potential attackers’ ability to communicate through digital messaging.

“Terrorism is a truly global threat, as digital as it is dangerous,” Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Saturday at the signing of a counter-terrorism memorandum of understanding at his country’s special summit with Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders in Sydney. “The use of social media and encrypted messaging applications is a challenge for us all, and one we must tackle together.”

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The nations committed to improve legislative and enforcement tools to combat the cross-border movement of extremists, including obtaining and using electronic communications evidence for prosecutions. They also pledged to increase legislative efforts to boost counter-terrorism financing and information-sharing between members.

Read more on what’s next for ISIS

The move comes as concern in Southeast Asia grows about the influence of ISIS-inspired terrorists returning from the Middle East, with Indonesia and Philippines seen by some experts as vulnerable to further attacks. Australia, a key ally of the U.S., is also on high alert with the likelihood of an attack deemed probable. Intelligence services there have disrupted or stopped at least a dozen major terrorism plots since 2014.

The Summit’s counter-terrorism conference is designed to bring regional intelligence agencies and policy-makers together to strengthen cross-border efforts to crack down on terrorism financing and planning.

“The use of encrypted messaging apps by terrorists and criminals is potentially the most significant degradation of intelligence capability in modern times,” Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told the meeting on Saturday.

Dutton is leading attempts to pass legislation in Australia’s parliament that he says will make communications companies pass on potential terrorism-related messages to intelligence agencies, and boost authorities’ ability to use surveillance devices.

“We all have a vested interest in each other defeating terrorist movements wherever they arise,” Turnbull said. “Just as the terrorists’ networks are transnational, so must be our collaboration, and nowhere more so than in the sharing of intelligence.”

The pact is one of the core objectives of the special summit between Asean and Australia, which has been organized at Turnbull’s behest to enhance regional economic and security ties. Leaders of the nations will meet on Sunday.

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Human Rights Protests Surround ASEAN Summit in Sydney, Australia

March 17, 2018

Demonstrators have rallied against Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and Cambodia’s Hun Sen. The protests have overshadowed a regional agreement targeting terror groups’ use of encrypted platforms.

Members of the Rohingya community gather in Hyde park to protest against Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN, special summit, in Sydney

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Sydney on Saturday to protest Southeast Asian leaders gathering in the Australian city for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.

“We are here today in solidarity among the communities from Southeast Asia who are facing dictatorship and genocide, of course particularly in the Rohingya community,” said Shawfikul Islam from the Australian Burmese Rohingya Organization.

Read more: Myanmar’s Rohingya: A history of forced exoduses

Banners carried by protesters showed images of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi with a stylized moustache reminiscent of Nazi Germany dictator Adolf Hitler, calling for her to return the esteemed prize. She has had several awards revoked over the military campaign.

Suu Kyi has been accused by Western governments and human rights groups of doing nothing to stop the Burmese military from implementing a brutal crackdown against the Muslim-minority Rohingya in western Myanmar. Many have called it a campaign of ethnic cleansing.

Protesters rallying against Cambodia's Hun SenProtesters have decried human rights violations in Cambodia after Prime Minister Hun Sen threatened to “beat” anyone rallying against his regime in Australia

‘Hands full of blood’

A group of Australian lawyers on Saturday sought to have Suu Kyi prosecuted on charges of crimes against humanity. However, Australian Attorney General Christian Porter rejected their legal application, saying she “has complete immunity, including from being served with court documents.”

Protesters and rights groups also singled out Cambodian strongman Hun Sen’s regime for committing human rights violations. The Cambodian leader threatened violence against demonstrators before arriving in Sydney.

Read more: Is Cambodia an autocratic state now?

Victorian lawmaker Hong Lim of the Labor party accused Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of turning a blind-eye to human rights abuses, saying: “Many of the hands he’s shaking yesterday, today and tomorrow are hands full of blood.”

Group photo of ASEAN-Australia special summit 2018Australia has signed an agreement with ASEAN states to further increase counterterrorism cooperation despite protests decrying human rights violations committed by several of the bloc’s members

Security pact

The protests overshadowed an agreement signed by Australia and 10 ASEAN member states to bolster cooperation and coordination to counter terrorism in the region.

“Terrorism and violent extremism transcend national borders,” said Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton. “Countering the threat requires a united and cohesive regional effort involving coordination between our respective national security and law enforcement agencies.”

Read more: Is Philippines’ Marawi free from ‘Islamic State’ influence?

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that the “Islamic State” militant group was targeting the region’s 300 million Muslims. With the group effectively losing most of the territory it held in Iraq and Syria, it has tried to expand its influence in areas outside the Middle East, including Southeast Asia and Africa.

The security agreement aims to streamline cooperation on intercepting messages and preventing radicalization, including by expanding methods to break through encrypted platforms.

ls/jlw (AFP, AP, dpa)


ASEAN military chiefs push for peace in South China Sea

March 12, 2018

ASEAN military chiefs also stress the need for ‘a peaceful resolution’ of the South China Sea dispute

Published 4:18 PM, March 11, 2018
Updated 4:33 PM, March 11, 2018
2016 PHOTO. Structures seen on a satellite image of Mischief Reef on November 15, 2016, released December 13, 2016. Image courtesy of CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe

2016 PHOTO. Structures seen on a satellite image of Mischief Reef on November 15, 2016, released December 13, 2016. Image courtesy of CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe

MANILA, Philippines – Military chiefs of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) pushed for peace in the disputed South China Sea, as they also stressed the need to avoid moves “that may complicate the situation.”

The military chiefs made this statement after the ASEAN Chiefs of Defense Forces Informal Meeting (ACDFIM) held in Singapore on Thursday, March 8.

The chiefs reaffirmed “the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety, and freedom of navigation in and over-flight above the South China Sea, as well as the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities and avoid actions that may complicate the situation.”

They also emphasized the importance of “a peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law,” according to a statement by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. (READ: ASEAN 2017: A wasted opportunity for the West Philippine Sea)

The Philippines owns the rights over part of the South China Sea, called the West Philippine Sea, within the Southeast Asian country’s 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Terrorism, disaster response tackled: After their meeting in Singapore, heads of defense forces also spoke of a “Resilience, Response, Recovery” framework to deter terrorist attacks in the region.

The military chiefs then agreed to work on the “operationalization of mechanisms to enhance ASEAN responses to natural disasters, such as the ASEAN Military Ready Group (AMRG).” (READ: How climate change affects ASEAN affairs)

The AMRG would be a precursor for an ASEAN quick response team for immediate coordinated deployment to ASEAN countries and areas affected by disasters. –

Philippines Denies Being Soft on China, International Law After Photos Show At Least Seven Chinese Military Bases Now Near Philippines

February 7, 2018
By: – Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
 / 05:10 PM February 07, 2018
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Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (File photo by JOAN BONDOC / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

The Philippines on Wednesday downplayed criticisms that the government is being “too soft” in dealing with China’s militarization in the South China Sea as it joined the call of Southeast Asian nations for non-militarization and self-restraint in the disputed territory.

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Mischief Reef now an extensive Chinese military base

Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) on Tuesday raised concerns on the continued militarization and reclamation of China in the disputed sea despite an earlier agreement to proceed with talks in crafting a sea code.

The statement came after aerial photos showed that China was nearly done transforming disputed reefs in the South China Sea into island fortresses.

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Photos show China’s South China Sea island fortresses


Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said top diplomats of Asean were “right” in airing their concerns against China.

“Oo, tama naman po yang concern na ‘yan dahil ang hinihingi ng Asean bilang isang bloke, tumalima sa discussion ng code of conduct [ang China],” Roque told reporters in a phone patch interview.

(Yes, they are right regarding their concern because what they are asking, being a bloc, is for China to adhere to the discussion of the code of conduct.)

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“[K]asama tayo sa Asean. “Yan po ang panawagan ng Asean. Kasama ang Pilipinas sa panawagan na yan,” he added.

(We are included in the Asean. That is the Asean’s call. The Philippines is one of them in calling for that.)

Sought for comments on criticisms that the Philippines was too soft in dealing with Beijing’s aggression in the South China Sea, Roque denied this, saying the government only wanted to maintain peace and stability in the disputed sea.

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Chinese military bases near the Philippines

“We are not being too soft po pero meron tayong (but we have already) established policy diyan. Number one is: we are of course one with Asean in recognizing that this is a concern or all Asean countries, the freedom of navigation in the West Philippine Sea. Number two of course our common concern is peace security and stability in one of the world’s busiest sea lanes,” he said.

Since he assumed office, President Rodrigo Duterte has taken steps to mend Manila’s strained relations with Beijing after it went hostile during the term of former President Benigno Aquino III due to the long-unresolved territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

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Chinese warships have been observed in transit between islands near the Philippines

Duterte has vowed to take a “soft-landing” approach in dealing with the country’s maritime dispute with China, setting aside the United Nations (UN) arbitral ruling, which invalidate Beijing’s weeping claims to almost all of the South China Sea. /jpv

Check out our Asean 2017 special site for important information and latest news on the 31st Asean Summit to be held in Manila on Nov. 13-15, 2017. Visit

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China has no greater rights than any other in the sea. China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

India takes fight to China via SEAsia

January 30, 2018

Association of Southeast Asian Nations and India’s newly announced ‘Delhi Declaration’ puts maritime security at the forefront of relations

 MANILA, JANUARY 29, 2018 1:26 PM (UTC+8)
An Indian army contingent marches holding the national flags of the Asean countries during a dress rehearsal for Indian Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 23, 2018. Photo: AFP/Money Sharma

An Indian army contingent marches holding the national flags of the Asean countries during a dress rehearsal for Indian Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 23, 2018. Photo: AFP/Money Sharma

South China Sea: China continues “assertive initiatives”

December 8, 2017

December 07, 2017 08:13


Beijing’s new move to assert air control over the disputed South China Sea risks alarming countries that had agreed last month to work out differences diplomatically.

State-run China Central Television and one English-language news outlet said last week the military had deployed domestically built J-11B jet fighters to Woody Island in the Paracel archipelago.

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Hangars in the island chain would improve China’s overall control of the sea, the television network said, quoting a Chinese military expert. The country eventually could intercept foreign aircraft, it said.

Five other governments, all militarily weaker than China, contest Beijing’s claims to about 90 percent of the 3.5 sea that’s prized for fisheries, marine shipping lanes and undersea fossil fuel reserves.

China’s aircraft deployment will raise alerts among the other claimants as well as the United States, which has more fire power than China and insists the sea remain open to all, analysts believe.

But China and Southeast Asian states, which are used to Chinese maritime maneuvers and recipients of Chinese economic support, are expected to remain friendly.

Artilleries are fired during a military drill in Qingtongxia, Ningxia Autonomous Region, China on Sept. 25, 2017. /Reuters

In November China agreed to negotiate with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on a code to prevent accidents at sea by 2018. An official from Beijing said then that China would ensure freedom of navigation for the Southeast Asian states.

China probably intends to stick to both pledges, analysts say. Beijing is mixing “friendly gestures” with “assertive initiatives,” said Fabrizio Bozzato, a Taiwan Strategy Research Association fellow who follows Southeast Asia.

“At the end of the day, their South China Sea policy remains unchanged,” Bozzato said. “They regard the South China Sea as Chinese waters. It seems to me they have a clear intention to make the South China Sea or most of it Chinese waters by what we could say 2030.”

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam assert sovereignty over parts of the same sea, overlapping China’s claims. Taiwan also claims the whole sea.

Since 2010 China has angered its neighbors by using landfill to build up islets and installing other military hardware to bolster control. But to reinforce friendships, China has helped the Philippines develop infrastructure since the two sides became friendlier last year, pumped up tourism to Vietnam and invested heavily in Brunei and Malaysia.

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.


Canada’s Trudeau airs concern on Philippine killings

November 14, 2017


© AFP | Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tackled Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte over allegations of extrajudicial killings in Manila’s deadly drug war
MANILA (AFP) – Justin Trudeau tackled Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte over allegations of extrajudicial killings in Manila’s deadly drug war, he said on Tuesday.

The Canadian prime minister’s comments came the day after US President Donald Trump hailed the “great relationship” he enjoys with Duterte in a meeting the Philippines government said did not touch on human rights.

“I also mentioned human rights, the rule of law, and specifically extrajudicial killings as being an issue that Canada is concerned with,” Trudeau told reporters in Manila, recounting a conversation with Duterte.

“I impressed upon him the need for respect for the rule of law.”

Ahead of a regional summit in the Philippines, rights groups had urged world leaders to challenge Duterte over what they say are gross abuses.

The 72-year-old overwhelmingly won elections last year vowing to eradicate drugs through a campaign that would see up to 100,000 people killed.

Since he took office, police have reported killing 3,967 people in the crackdown.

Another 2,290 people have been murdered in drug-related crimes, while thousands of other deaths remain unsolved, according to government data.

Rights groups say Duterte may be presiding over a crime against humanity.

On Tuesday, Trudeau said Canada had earned a reputation for discussing human rights and the rule of law with other nations.

Asked how Duterte responded, Trudeau said: “The president was receptive to my comments and it was throughout a very cordial and positive exchange.”

“This is something that is important to Canadians, and it’s important to the world and I will always bring that up,” Trudeau said, referring to human rights.

The Canadian prime minister added he offered support to Duterte “as a friend to help move forward on what is a real challenge”.

Duterte is hosting world leaders as the Philippines holds the rotating chair of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc.

Trudeau’s comments were a rare sour note for Duterte during a summit that has been largely silent on the issue.

Trump garnered headlines on Monday for his show of camaraderie with Duterte, a man who last week boasted of having personally stabbed someone to death as a teenager.

A Philippine presidential spokesman repeatedly insisted Monday that human rights had not come up during their summit talks, although the White House said they had done so “briefly”.

In Vietnam, Trump offers to mediate on South China Sea

November 12, 2017


HANOI (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday he was prepared to mediate between claimants to the South China Sea, where five countries contest China’s sweeping claims to the busy waterway.

Trump was speaking in Vietnam, which has become the most vocal opponent of China’s claims and its construction and militarization of artificial islands in the sea. About $3-trillion in goods passes through the sea each year.

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U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang, right, attend the welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (Kham/Pool Photo via AP) The Associated Press

“If I can help mediate or arbitrate, please let me know,” Trump said in comments at a meeting in Hanoi with Vietnam’s president, Tran Dai Quang.

Trump acknowledged that China’s position on the South China Sea was a problem.

“I‘m a very good mediator and arbitrator,” he said.

President Quang said Vietnam believed in handling disputes on the South China Sea through peaceful negotiations and on the basis of international laws – which Vietnam says nullify China’s claims.

Vietnam has reclaimed land around reefs and islets, but on nowhere near the same scale as China. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan also have claims in the sea.

Since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has grown closer to China, Vietnam has emerged as China’s main challenger in the region. In July, China pressured Vietnam to stop oil drilling in a disputed area, taking relations to a low.

Relations have since improved and Chinese President Xi Jinping is visiting Hanoi later on Sunday.

The South China Sea was discussed in Beijing on an earlier leg of Trump’s 12-day Asian tour and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States and China had a frank exchange of views.

Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang and U.S. President Donald Trump prepare to address a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The United States has angered China with freedom of navigation patrols close to Chinese-controlled islands.


In August, foreign ministers of Southeast Asia and China adopted a negotiating framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea, a move they hailed as progress but one seen by critics as a tactic to buy China time to consolidate its power.

The framework seeks to advance a 2002 Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea, which has mostly been ignored by claimant states, particularly China, which has built seven man-made islands in disputed waters, three of them equipped with runways, surface-to-air missiles and radars.

All parties say the framework is only an outline for how the code will be established and critics raise doubts about how effective the pact will be.

The framework will be endorsed by China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at a summit in Manila on Monday, a diplomat from one of the regional bloc’s countries said.

The next step is for ASEAN and China to start formal consultations and negotiations for the actual Code of Conduct, and the earliest that talks on this can start is February 2018, the diplomat said.

From Vietnam, Trump flies to the Philippines for a meeting with ASEAN leaders before he heads back to Washington.

Relations between Vietnam and the United States have blossomed in the decades since their war ended in 1975. A recent survey put the favorability of the United States at 84 percent among Vietnamese.

But Vietnam’s trade surplus remains an irritant for the Trump administration. At $32 billion last year, it was the sixth largest with the United States, though less than a tenth the size of China‘s.

“We want to get that straightened out very quickly,” Trump said at a meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Writing by Matthew Tostevin; Editing by Clarence Fernandez




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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Vietnam, in a Bind, Tries to Chart a Path Between U.S. and China

November 11, 2017

HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnam’s full-on war with the United States lasted a decade. Its tensions with its northern neighbor, China, have persisted for thousands of years — from a millennium of direct Chinese rule and a bloody border war in 1979 to more recent confrontations in the South China Sea.

If geography is destiny, then the fate of Vietnam is to be an expert in bargaining with Beijing and balancing between superpowers.

So with the rest of the world struggling to reckon with China’s assertive moves in the Pacific, the Vietnamese, hosts of this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, are offering guidance.

“I would like to give advice to the whole world, and especially to the United States, that you must be careful with China,” said Maj. Gen. Le Van Cuong, the retired director of the Institute of Strategic Studies at the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security.

Like any good Communist soldier, General Cuong pays attention to the details of leaders’ abstruse speeches, and he noted that President Xi Jinping of China had referred to his homeland’s status as a “great” or “strong power” 26 times in a lengthy address last month.

“Xi Jinping’s ambitions are dangerous for the whole world,” General Cuong said. “China uses its money to buy off many leaders, but none of the countries that are its close allies, like North Korea, Pakistan or Cambodia, have done well. Countries that are close to America have done much better. We must ask: Why is this?”

As with other Southeast Asian nations acutely aware that they are positioned in China’s backyard, Vietnam is worried about American inattention.

In the name of halting Communism, the United States once sent troops to Indochina and propped up dictators elsewhere in Asia. But the American-devised security landscape also created a stable environment in which regional economies expanded.

A furniture factory in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. “As Vietnamese, we are always trying to find a way to balance China’s power,” said Nguyen Ngoc Anh, a professor at the Foreign Trade University in Hanoi. Credit Christian Berg for The New York Times

Now, Mr. Trump’s decision to take the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, which would have given 11 other economies an alternative to a Chinese-led economic order, has left the Vietnamese feeling vulnerable.

“As Vietnamese, we are always trying to find a way to balance China’s power,” said Nguyen Ngoc Anh, a professor at the Foreign Trade University in Hanoi. “For us, TPP isn’t just an economic issue. It’s also about geopolitics and social issues.”

Ms. Anh noted that local liberals had cheered the trade pact because it would have forced Vietnam to adhere to international labor and government accountability standards that Hanoi might otherwise not meet.

With the 11 other members of the pact still hashing out if they can proceed without the United States, Washington’s withdrawal — not to mention Mr. Trump’s “America First” speech at the APEC meeting on Friday — leaves some nations wondering if their best option may be Chinese-backed trade pacts and financing deals that have fewer guarantees for workers and less official transparency.

“We are both Communist countries, but people like me in Vietnam don’t want to develop the same way that China has,” said Ms. Anh, who studied economics in Soviet-era Czechoslovakia. “We want to follow the Western-oriented way.”

While the United States is the largest market for Vietnamese exports, Vietnam’s biggest trading partner is China. Yet Vietnam runs a significant trade deficit with its populous neighbor, and Vietnamese economists worry that China doesn’t play fairly.

“China is one of the few countries in the world that doesn’t observe international law in many areas,” said Le Dang Doanh, an influential economist who has advised members of the Vietnamese Politburo on trade.

The Vietnamese watched in alarm last year when Beijing reacted to an international tribunal’s dismissal of China’s expansive claims over the South China Sea by ignoring — and even mocking — the judgment. Vietnam and four other governments have claims of their own on the resource-rich waterway that conflict with China’s.

It is hard to overstate the level of Vietnamese antipathy toward China. In a country where public protest is rare and risky, some of the few large-scale demonstrations in Vietnam in recent years have been against the Chinese.

But this national aversion puts Vietnam’s leadership in a bind. It cannot ignore China’s growing economic magnetism. For many members of APEC, China now ranks as their No. 1 trading partner.

In return for investment and project financing — roads, railways, dams, airports and colossal government buildings — leaders of regional economies are increasingly doing Beijing’s bidding.

Cambodia and Laos have given crucial support for Beijing’s South China Sea claims. Thailand has complied with Beijing’s demand that it return Chinese dissidents who once counted on it as a haven.

Even the Philippines has appeared to yield, despite the fact it lodged the successful South China Sea suit at The Hague. Days before Mr. Trump’s visit to Manila this Sunday, it disclosed that President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered construction halted on a disputed sandbar in the South China Sea, a move widely regarded as intended to placate Beijing.

Since taking office last year, Mr. Duterte has deemed the era of American military and economic pre-eminence over, and has called China his country’s best and faithful friend. He has been rewarded with billions of dollars in infrastructure investment from Beijing.

“The U.S. has been playing catch-up to China’s charm offensive since the turn of the new century,” said Tang Siew Mun, who heads the Southeast Asia center at the Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute, a think tank in Singapore.

Vietnam, more than any other country, has grown practiced at divining when not to challenge the two Pacific powers — both of which it fought within the last half-century.

People exchanging Vietnamese dong and Chinese renminbi near Vietnam’s border with China. While the United States is the largest market for Vietnamese exports, Vietnam’s biggest trading partner is China. Credit Linh Pham/Getty Images

In the 1970s and 1980s, China seized spits of land in the South China Sea that Vietnam had controlled or that were unoccupied but claimed by Hanoi.

Yet perhaps sensing an American reluctance to confront China in the South China Sea, Vietnam has declined to take China to international court, as the Philippines did, even as the Chinese have turned disputed reefs and sandbars into militarized islands.

Chinese pressure continues, despite the United States’ supplying the Vietnamese Coast Guard with a cutter and new patrol boats.

This year, a Spanish company with prospecting rights from Vietnam suspended drilling in an oil block off the coast of Vietnam. Beijing claims part of the waters as its own.

In 2014, the Chinese parked a state-owned oil rig off Danang, where Mr. Trump attended the APEC summit meeting on Friday, in a forceful incursion into what Hanoi considers its territorial waters.

“Living next to China, which has ambitions to become the most powerful country in the world, is not easy,” said Vo Van Tao, a popular political blogger. “To lower the heat, Vietnam needs to withdraw from areas that belong to Vietnam.”

Grand strategy is beyond the worldview of Vietnamese like Do Van Duc. In 1979, he was stationed on the border with China, as part of an antiaircraft artillery unit, when hundreds of thousands of People’s Liberation Army soldiers from China flooded south.

The Vietnamese, while outmanned, put up an unexpectedly robust defense. Within a month, the Chinese, professing that they had taught the Vietnamese a lesson for interfering in regional geopolitics, withdrew.

During the war with China, Mr. Duc was only 17 years old, but he came to understand one thing then that today, as a security guard living in Hanoi, he said he still clings to.

“We cannot trust the Chinese,” he said. “They are our ancient enemy, and that will not change.”

Xi Jinping calls on China, Vietnam to work together to settle South China Sea disputes — After Donald Trump pulls out

November 11, 2017

Parties must ‘stay committed to seeking a fundamental and durable solution’ to their claims, Chinese president says ahead of Apec summit in Vietnam

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 November, 2017, 10:25am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 November, 2017, 9:45pm

Xi called on the two nations to work closely to resolve their maritime disputes, before landing in Da Nang for this weekend’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit at which Xi and US President Donald Trump are expected to vie for regional influence.

Xi and Trump will also visit Hanoi after the summit.

In an article published in Nhan Dan, the official newspaper of the Vietnamese Communist Party, on Thursday, Xi said China and Vietnam were close neighbours, and the people of the two nations “fought shoulder to shoulder” in the struggle for independence.

He said Ho “was like a brother” to China’s past leaders, including late chairman Mao Zedong and premier Zhou Enlai.

Vietnam has been at odds with China over their competing claims in the South China Sea. In July, under pressure from Beijing, Vietnam suspended drilling for oil in the contested waters. The next month, Vietnam voiced opposition to Chinese military drills near the disputed Paracel Islands.

Meanwhile Vietnam has strengthened military ties with the United States.

Last year Washington lifted a decades-long ban on the sale of military equipment to Hanoi, and in August this year Vietnam won US assurances of a strong defence relationship based on common interests, including freedom of navigation in the waterway.

In his article, Xi said Vietnam and China “need to well manage our differences and disagreements”.

The parties must “stay committed to seeking a fundamental and durable solution to the maritime issues acceptable to both sides through friendly consultation,” he said.

China often refers to Vietnam as its “friend” and “comrade”, a legacy of their shared communist political systems.

Ahead of Apec, a group of Chinese delegates signed 83 trade deals with Vietnam worth a combined US$1.94 billion, according to state-run Xinhua.

After Vietnam, Xi will make a state visit to Laos, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.




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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.