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Growing Diplomatic Competition Between United States And China Could Raise Tension Among Southeast Asian Countries

by Diana Tomale / Nov 15, 2015 10:54 AM EST
Diplomatic competition between the US and China on the issue of disputed South China Sea could raise tension among Southeast Asian countries. (Photo by China Photos / Getty Images)

ASEAN defense chiefs failed to come up with an agreement over the matter of South China Sea during a summit held on November 4.

Reuters noted on the same day that the tension between the United States and China marred the meeting of defense officials resulting to a failure to release a joint statement after the summit.

"The decision was made by ASEAN because there is no consensus, so no joint declaration is signed," Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein revealed in a press conference.

ASEAN defense officials reportedly were compelled to call off a planned rite to sign a joint statement regarding the matter of regional security, as reported by Financial Times Nov. 4.

According to reports, the US and China are raising their diplomatic competition after the former reportedly challenged the claims of China on the disputed South China Sea.

Hussein reportedly said that "the geopolitical considerations of the major powers" could increase tension among the countries in Southeast Asia.

Both parties are claiming contrasting statements which resulted to the disagreements. The US reportedly accused China for allegedly militarizing the region by creating artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea, while China claimed that the presence of US warships in the disputed waters is frightening stability.

However, the US defended they were performing "freedom of navigation" when they breached the 12-nautical-mile boundaries claim of China. On the other hand, China said the US is doing "a very serious provocation" with its act.

"I think what the United States is doing is a very serious provocation politically and militarily," Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai said. "It is a clear attempt to escalate the situation and to militarize the region."

Meanwhile, an unnamed US official said "the Chinese lobbied to keep any reference to the South China Sea out of the final joint declaration."

"Understandably a number of ASEAN countries‎ felt that was inappropriate. It reflects the divide China's reclamation and militarization has caused," the official added.

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