Thursday, August 30, 2012

The West Philippine Sea Dispute in APEC


Trade among international players would definitely hinge on security as a main basis for further growth and progress but would APEC involve the West Philippine Sea dispute, and other conflicts within the South China Sea region at the APEC Leader’s Summit in Russia early next month?

Reports have stated that President Aquino and Chinese President Hu Jintao may discuss the situation in the West Philippine Sea , especially that potentialities for armed clashes have reached its peak there when for several months Chinese vessels were positioning in the area, in highly provocative stances.

Japan and China are also expected to touch on the similarly heated dispute over islands known as Senkaku.
The discussion may come up if China would broach it up in a sideline bilateral meeting but APEC would not have it in its main agenda.

APEC is primarily an economic body and forum and so far had distance itself from involvement in socio-political issues appertaining in the region that consist of 21 Pacific Rim countries, this despite that it had delve into the climate change issue when it included in the discussion the Kyoto Protocol several years ago.

The Philippines had long held its inclination to submit the West Philippine Sea disputes to an international court, most probably at the International Tribunal for Law of the Sea in Hamburg but China had repeatedly and vehemently refused to give its consent, which is a requirement before any such dispute may be put up for hearing in consonance with international law standards.

In July, ASEAN had failed to issue a joint communiqué on the conduct of nations in the South China Sea region after its annual ministerial meeting Phnom Penh. Following in this trend, APEC may similarly decide to distance itself from the issue.

China is such an economic force that it easily gains favor, such as the non-inclusion of the West Philippine Sea disputes in APEC main agenda.

But we all hope President Aquino would handle things well in his scheduled bilateral meeting with President Hu Jintao albeit that this may be against diplomatic protocol, to discuss matters not set in the agenda.

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