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Asean defence talks in Hanoi focus on South China Sea

Category: Headlines

Published: 11th Oct 2010 05:35:58

The defence ministers of South East Asian nations, China, Japan and the United States are meeting today in Vietnam for the first time.

The talks in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, follow months of tensions over China's claim to the South China Sea.

China has also been in a tense standoff with Japan over disputed islands.

The US supports Asian countries in seeking multilateral solutions to the growing range of disputes, a stance China has criticised as interference.

Analysts say that Hanoi, current Asean chair, will be trying to ease tensions and avoid conflict in the first formal gathering of defence ministers from around the region.

Carl Thayer, an Australia-based expert on Vietnam and regional security, said the meeting's success would be measured by the fact that "the ministers met and no one country gets singled out".

Vietnam's Deputy Defence Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh said the meeting would try to identify common interests and avoid becoming "a place for a war of words".

The US defence secretary, Robert Gates, will be meeting with his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie after months of subtle change in the relationship between the two powers.

China broke off direct military contacts with the US eight months ago in protest at US arms sales to Taiwan. Tentative moves to re-start military contacts began in the past week.

Alongside the regional talks in Hanoi, Mr Liang and the Japanese defence minister, Toshimi Kitazawa, are scheduled to hold their first direct talks since a heated maritime dispute last month.

Meanwhile, China is mounting a large military exercise involving more than 30,000 soldiers and the deployment of transport planes, fighter jets and attack helicopters.

The exercise is part of China's response to a series of joint military exercises held between South Korea and the US in recent months which had angered China.

Vietnam's own concerns focus on China's frequent detention of Vietnamese fishermen; it has accused China of detaining nine of its fishermen last month in the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands that are claimed by both countries.

China claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea, including the Paracel and Spratly islands, which are also claimed in whole or in part by Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines.

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BBC News, 2010. Asean defence talks in Hanoi focus on South China Sea [Online] (Updated 11th Oct 2010)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/97742/Asean-defence-talks-in-Hanoi-focus-on-South-China-Sea [Accessed 2nd Sep 2014]

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