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Asean must speak out on territorial spats, says Singapore Minister Shanmugam

Published on Jun 17, 2014 5:34 PM
Singapore's Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam speaks during a meeting with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (not pictured) in Beijing on June 12, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING - Asean must continue to speak out and play a role in helping to peacefully resolve the territorial spats in the South China Sea, Singapore's Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam has pointed out, even if the grouping as a whole cannot intervene directly in the disputes between four member states and China.

"If Asean keeps quiet and loses credibility, it would not be in China's interest," Mr Shanmugam noted in remarks to The Straits Times following a visit to Beijing last week. "It is in China's interest to have a strong and vibrant Asean, united and neutral."

China is locked in a series of long-running territorial disputes with Taiwan and four Asean countries - Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia - in the resource-rich South China Sea.

Tension over the issue has ratcheted up in recent months after Manila took Beijing to international court in March over the latter's claims, and after anti-China rioting broke out in Vietnam following the deployment of a Chinese oil rig last month in waters disputed by both countries.

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