ASEAN: Hanoi and Manila united front against Chinese imperialism on the seas
by N.H.
The regional summit opens today: cooperation, peace and maritime security at the center of agenda. In recent days, talks between Trương San Tan and Benigno Aquino. Freedom of navigation and maritime trade a must.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - Co-operation at the regional level, peace and security at sea, but especially the vexed question of the "imperialist" policy and "savage capitalism" of Beijing in the South China Sea, termed a "new colonialism" by many of the countries in the area.

These are the central themes of the ASEAN summit (Association which brings together the 10 countries of South-East Asia), today and tomorrow in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw. Experts predict "hot waters" in the Asia-Pacific, where the Chinese government will continue to push the boundaries of its territorial claims in order to appease their economic and geopolitical interests.

On 6 November, the Vietnamese government opposed Chinese attempts at illegal construction near Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly islands; Hanoi has asked Beijing to "immediately stop" the construction project on disputed land.

The Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Binh Le Hai, confirmed Hanoi's request  Beijing "refrain from carrying out illegal activities in the future." He also added that Vietnam has "historical and legal evidence" that proves its sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly islands.

In addition, Hanoi's says China's ambitions "violate" the Declaration of Conduct (DoC) in the seas and the basic agreements between the two countries, aimed at resolving maritime disputes between the two countries. The deliberate acts of Beijing are thus a source of tension and "complicate the situation, endanger peace and stability in the region."

On 9 November, on the sidelines of the 22nd APEC summit, the Vietnamese President Trương San Tan met with his Philippine counterpart Benigno Aquino III, renewing ties of friendship and cooperation between the two countries in an anti-Chinese light. With regard to regional and global problems, they stressed the need to maintain peace, stability and security, and the freedom of navigation in accordance with the principles laid down by international maritime law (UNCLOS).

In recent years, Vietnam and the Philippines - which has taken its case to a UN court - have shown growing concern over China's "imperialism" in the South and East China Seas. The Chinese government claims most of the sea (almost 85 per cent), including sovereignty over the disputed Spratly and Paracel islands, in opposition to Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia.

For the United States, which backs the claims of Southeast Asia nations, Beijing's so-called 'cow tongue' line is both "illegal" and "irrational". Recently, even the Vietnamese bishops urged China to "convert to the Virgin of Fatima" for peace "in Asia and the world."