ASEAN: a civilising influence

ASEAN defence ministers’ meeting in Hanoi – Oct 11, 2010

A meeting of defence ministers from the *Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), with attenders from eight other countries, opened today in Hanoi. 

ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan called the talks important for resolving disputes in the South China Sea : “[ASEAN] must demonstrate to the world that we can manage our own challenges.” 

Host nation Vietnam said the meeting will focus on shared interests, but observers are watching for clues to relations between the US, China, Japan and Vietnam, which have been strained recently by maritime territorial disputes. 

China’s claims to sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea are disputed by Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines. 

Attending the meeting were representatives of  the 10 ASEAN member states as well as China, the United States, Japan, South Korea, India, Russia, Australia and New Zealand. 

This meeting coincides with the military exercise mounted by China, involving more than 30,000 soldiers and the deployment of transport planes, fighter jets and attack helicopters – thought by some to be part of its response to a series of joint military exercises held between South Korea and the US in recent months. 

* ASEAN members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam

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