South China Sea claims to top summit agenda
Premier Wen Jiabao arrived in Bali, Indonesia, yesterday for a series of high-level meetings with the region's leaders that are expected to feature discussions about disputes in the South China Sea.
Wen will also hold bilateral talks on the sidelines of the summits. He is expected to meet Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama today, when he will also attend the Asean-China Commemorative Summit and the Asean Plus Three Summit with leaders from Japan and South Korea, before attending the East Asia Summit tomorrow.
The summits come after the US urged claimants in South China Sea disputes not to resort to intimidation in the oil-rich waters. The US said it would discuss the disputes at the summit, but Beijing wants the matter to be discussed only through bilateral consultations with nations, not in the multilateral Asean forum.
During the opening of the meetings, Indonesian President Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urged Asean members to help ensure regional stability and security.
Xinhua issued a strongly worded commentary warning of adverse consequences if the US 'plays with fire' by stirring up trouble. 'Asian countries do not like others imposing values on them,' it said. 'If the US sticks to its cold war mentality by seeking a dominant position when mingling with Asian countries, it will only make countries in the region more frustrated.'
The commentary said Asian countries did not need a 'leader' or 'arbitrator', but a partner that treats them equally and with sincerity.
Zhang Jiuhuan, former ambassador to Thailand, Singapore and Nepal, expected Wen and Obama to discuss US involvement in the region and the global financial crisis.
'Countries in the region are concerned about whether the US's participation will have a positive impact or not,' Zhang said.