Sunday, July 17, 2016

Cambodia - Hun Sen Tells Asean to Back Off Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has warned his Asean counterparts against meddling in South China Sea claims ahead of a landmark ruling on the dispute lodged by the Philippines expected to be announced next week.

The Philippines, who have long claimed the Scarborough shoal, filed with the Hague arbitration court in 2013 after Chinese naval ships refused to leave the shoal. The ruling is touted for Thursday, July 7. China has indicated it will not be recognized by the giant, with diplomats touring the globe in recent weeks gathering support.

The South China Sea has increasingly wedged the Asean regional bloc, with some member states, like Cambodia, arguing for bilateral resolutions to the dispute rather than Asean-China talks.

Speaking on Tuesday (28/06) at the 65th anniversary celebrations of the ruling Cambodia People’s Party (CPP) in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen again lashed out at Asean.

“The CPP does not support — and more so is against — any declaration by Asean to support the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in relation to the South China Sea disputes,” he said, as quoted by Cambodia Daily.

“Efforts by some countries outside the region to mobilize forces against China would bring negative impacts on Asean and peace in the region.”

Hun Sen’s apparent support for China raised eyebrows earlier this month after a statement issued following a meeting of Asean foreign ministers was mysteriously retracted.

Sources suggested Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar were behind the retraction, an accusation Hun Sen deemed “unacceptable.”

“We expressed our serious concerns over recent and ongoing developments, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and which may have the potential to undermine peace, security and stability in the South China Sea,” the statement said.

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