ASEAN-China To Discuss South China Sea

By M. Grace, November 09, 2018 23:11 PM

33rd ASEAN Summits (asean.org)

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China will reportedly tackle on a summit to be held in Singapore next week, about the developments in South China Sea amidst Beijing's continued militarization and reclamation in the disputed waters.

"We are quite sure that the South China Sea, as I've mentioned before, would be one of those regional developments that would be taken up in the Summit," Philippines' Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Junever Mahilum-West said in a Palace briefing on Friday, November 9.

Mahilum-West also said that the Philippines has assumed the coordination of the Asean-China dialogue partnership from 2018 to 2021.

The DFA official did not disclose any particulars about the South China Sea but assured the media that "The South China Sea" will be raised during the summit.

Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterter is also expected to attend the Singapore summit on November 13 to 15 to attend the 33rd Asean Summit and Related Summits.

During the summit, the Asean leaders were expected to discuss on priority areas of cooperation in the region which may include violent extremism, counterterrorism, trafficking, business, illegal drugs, and infrastructure developments.

Meanwhile, President Xi Jinping will be visiting the Philippines on November 18 to discuss development aid and progress on joint undersea fuel exploration of the two countries.

"The two governments will be signing a lot of agreements, particularly in terms of infrastructure to support the 'Build, Build, Build' policy of the Philippine government and then other agreements like the possibility of joint exploration," said Maria Ela Atienza, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

Some Filipinos wonder how much of that pledge total China will offer to the Philippines and whether the country will fall into debt like the way Pakistan and Sri Lanka did after receiving help and loan from China.

"A lot has been promised so far, but the realization of some of those pledges in the past haven't come to pass yet, so you have to see if there's more to come," said Christian de Guzman, vice president, and senior credit officer with Moody's in Singapore.

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