The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) may not be referring to the East Asian country by name, but the specter of China clearly hangs over their summit with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo this week. Countries like the Philippines have said that they are committed to ensuring that territorial disputes will be resolve in a peaceful manner and calling for freedom of flight in international space.
Concern among nations in the region has risen after China announced the establishment of an expanded air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, which overlaps in several areas with Japan and South Korea. There have been talks of a similar zone to be implemented in the South China Sea, where some ASEAN countries like Brunie, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, also have ongoing disputes with China.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said that his country is committed to “uphold the rule of law, promote the peaceful settlement of disputes, and to assure freedom of flight in international air space,” without mentioning a specific country or territorial issue. He spoke to reporters after meeting with Abe on the sidelines of the summit. Meanwhile, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said in his speech that it is “critical” for the region that Japan and China improve their relations and they are “deeply concerned” over the possibility of open conflict that will sorely affect the other countries in Asia.
[ via Reuters ]