Asian Leaders Fail to Resolve Disputes on South China Sea
Disputes in the strategically important South China Sea proved so contentious here on Thursday that an annual regional gathering ended without even a basic diplomatic communiqué.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who met with foreign ministers at the conference of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said in remarks clearly aimed at China that it was important that the disputes be resolved “without coercion, without intimidation, without threats and without use of force.”
The influence of China, which was represented here by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, hung over the behind-the-scenes deliberations on the South China Sea, dividing countries that are beholden to China and those that are willing to stand up to the Chinese.
The host of the meeting, Cambodia, which receives large amounts of assistance from Beijing, failed to play the expected role of intermediary in ironing out differences, leaving it to Indonesia to try hurriedly to piece an accord together.
Indonesia has no territorial claims in the South China Sea. The Indonesian foreign minister, Marty Natalegawa, praised Mrs. Clinton for “showing interest but giving space” in the effort to reach an agreement.