China sings different tune, says Asean talks ‘productive’

Agence France-Presse
China describes the Asean foreign ministers' meeting in Cambodia as 'productive'

BEIJING, China – Beijing on Friday described a summit of Southeast Asian countries that broke down amid deep divisions over China as “productive.”

A foreign ministry spokesman emphasized China’s positions had been supported by some among the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian nations during their meeting in Cambodia that ended Friday without a customary joint communique.

“It is a productive meeting and China’s views and position on many issues has won the appreciation and support of many participating countries,” ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said when asked to comment on the summit.

“Over the years this Asian regional cooperation has made important achievements relating to regional peace, stability, development and prosperity.

“China has also made important contributions and efforts to this end, which is widely appreciated.”

Foreign ministers at the Asean summit had been wrangling since Monday to reach an agreement, which has held up progress on a separate code of conduct aimed at soothing tension in the flashpoint South China Sea.

China claims sovereignty over nearly all of the resource-rich sea, which is home to vital shipping lanes, but Asean members the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have competing claims in the area.

The long-awaited code of conduct was seen as a way of reducing the chances of a spat over fishing, shipping rights or oil and gas exploration tipping into an armed conflict.

The Philippines lambasted the failure at the end of the talks on Friday, saying it “deplores the non-issuance of a joint communique… which was unprecedented in Asean’s 45-year existence”.

It had insisted Asean refer to an armed stand-off with China last month over a rocky outcrop known as the Scarborough Shoal, but Cambodia — a Beijing ally and chair of the meeting — resisted. – Agence France-Presse