China Thanks Cambodia for Its Support Over Row in West Philippine Sea

It slowly appears now that Cambodia had acted in favor of China, a close ally, in order to impede the joint communiqué that ASEAN should have issued last July after its annual meeting in Phnom Penh. Accordingly, the host country, Cambodia being the current ASEAN chairman, had rejected the wordings of the joint communiqué, a move that was highly unprecedented to a bloc that had often agreed on many terms in prior meetings.

In a news report by Xinhua News Agency, China Premier Wen Jiabao had thanked Cambodia in a meeting on Sunday,through Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen for its support, pertaining to the rising tensions between China and four members of ASEAN, which include the Philippines and Vietnam, both nations having conflict with China on a heightened level. Wen Jiabao thanked Cambodia particularly for "important role in maintaining the overall situation of friendly relations between China and the ASEAN."

For months, tensions have escalated over an area in West Philippine Sea, in Scarborough Shoal and Panatag Island, where Chinese vessels have been posturing in the past months.  The Philippine government has issued numerous diplomatic protests, but only to be heard by empty ears from the China hierarchy.

Similarly, Vietnam had countered vigorously China’s intensified moves in areas it disputes with the latter, particularly the installations of military ports in Sansha City.

With this development, ASEAN should feel uneasy with Cambodia now that it had become clear that it had acted in favor of an outside partner, instead of working for the interest of its co-members in ASEAN.

Cambodia Ambassador to the Philippines Recalled

Last month, Cambodia’s ambassador to the Philippines was recalled. DFA had given no official reasons for the recall but reports have stated how Ambassador Hos Sereythonh had accused the Philippines along with Vietnam, for playing “dirty politics” in handling the issues on the West Philippine Sea disputes with China, where the Cambodian ambassador had blamed both the Philippines and Vietnam for the failure of the ASEAN in issuing a joint communiqué in its annual meeting last July.

Read "Why There Was No ASEAN Joint Communique" by Undersecretary Erlinda F. Basilio, Department of Foreign Affairs
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