The View From Asia

Boosting cross-border ties for win-win outcome

China-Philippines, India-China, Japan-South Korea - a look at how countries in the region are working out differences, through Asia News Network commentaries.

Restraint and goodwill on South China Sea issue welcome

The Nation, Thailand

The meeting between representatives of China and the Philippines in Hong Kong recently was a good start to the dialogue on the dispute in the South China Sea. They have been at loggerheads over parallel claims to maritime territory, known most commonly as the Scarborough Shoal.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte picked former president Fidel Ramos as his special envoy to explore ways to begin an official dialogue with China.

Mr Ramos is the right choice.

He has good connections in Beijing and the respect of Chinese leaders. His informal meeting with Ms Fu Ying, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress, was friendly and fruitful.

Mr Ramos and Ms Fu agreed on the need for further talks to build trust and confidence, and reduce tensions. With such goodwill, it is obvious that negotiations will soon be upgraded to official status.

Before long, Mr Ramos will be in Beijing for further discussions.

In Hong Kong, Mr Ramos and Ms Fu weighed various areas of possible joint cooperation.

The topics included ecological preservation, fisheries, tourism and curbing crime.

Mr Ramos acknowledged afterwards that they had in fact not even mentioned the Arbitral Tribunal's ruling or the sovereignty of the disputed Scarborough Shoal. He cannily revealed, however, that one positive result of the session was a proposal to share fishing rights in the disputed area.

China and Asean will commemorate the 25th anniversary of diplomatic friendship next month.

Under new leadership, the Philippines has returned to the embrace of Asean and is acting in the interest of the bloc.

Plenty planned for India, China

Salman Haider
The Statesman, India

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's recently concluded visit to India has set in train a new round of high-level activity between India and China. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be attending the Group of 20 meeting in China next month when he will meet the Chinese leadership, and China's President Xi Jinping is to visit India in October.

Thus, plenty is to happen at the topmost level. To be sure, problems exist, but the general trend is favourable. Most striking is the flourishing trade relationship, with China having emerged as India's biggest trading partner.

Yet, despite this encouraging reality, there are quite a few unresolved issues. Some of these derive from their occasionally incompatible international aspirations. In the last few years, as its economic strength has grown and its ambitions expanded, China has become very active in many multilateral forums where, in company with others, it has challenged the structure and orientation of some global economic institutions.

Already much has changed in bodies like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and further change is envisaged.

India has its own desiderata of global institutional change, with United Nations Security Council reform prominent among them. Yet this has not come in the way of growing collaboration between them in some of the fresh regional and transregional bodies that have now become prominent, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation being a case in point.

Within the wide-ranging issues that have come up in the most recent contact between India and China, the one that has drawn maximum attention is India's admission to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

India's wish to join has been thwarted by Chinese reluctance to offer the required support.

Even though the majority of the members, including major nuclear powers, favour India's admission, China has withheld its support, without which, under the NSG rules, no change in membership is possible.

Some of Mr Wang's remarks in India suggest that the Chinese may be having further thoughts on the matter.

Improve ties between Japan and S. Korea

The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan

To maintain regional stability in the face of the growing military threat from North Korea, it is vital to steadily improve bilateral relations between Japan and South Korea. We urge South Korean President Park Geun Hye to make further efforts to this end.

With regard to the deployment of the most advanced ground-based missile defence system - Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) - to the United States forces in South Korea, she emphasised: "The government will take all necessary measures to protect the lives of South Koreans."

Ms Park's presentation of her country's well-grounded policy should be evaluated highly, given the pressure being applied by China, which strongly opposes the deployment.

She had apparently been leaning towards China by, among other things, attending a military parade in Beijing last September.

She may have recognised anew China's self-serving nature after Beijing tried to stop the deployment of the Thaad system in South Korea. Ms Park should reinforce trilateral security cooperation among Japan, the US and South Korea.

  • The View From Asia is a weekly compilation of articles from The Straits Times' media partner ANN, a grouping of 21 newspapers. For more, see
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2016, with the headline 'Boosting cross-border ties for win-win outcome'. Print Edition | Subscribe