Terrorism, South China Sea disputes dominate East Asia talks


Kuala Lumpur (dpa) – Efforts to stamp out terrorism and violent extremism must be redoubled, said 18 world leaders at the East Asia Summit Sunday, pointing to a recent string of violent attacks that have claimed scores of lives around the world.

“In this summit we reaffirmed our commitment. There was a sense we have to do more, we have to act together and we have to redouble our effort to make sure that we can stamp out violent extremism,” said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at a press briefing at the end of the two-day conference in Kuala Lumpur.

A statement issued after the summit laid out broad goals, but no specifics, for how this fight would proceed.

“The leaders underlined the need to address the threat of terrorism in a comprehensive manner, particularly by identifying the underlying factors that support terrorism and lead to radicalization,” the statement said.

“We denounce terrorism and violent extremism in all its forms and manifestations, including the spread of violent extremist ideologies and propaganda,” it added.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who attended the summit, also called for a united fight against terrorism.

“We need to unite,” he told the East Asian leaders. “All these terrorists and ideology extremists should be defeated in the name of humanity.”

Aside from terrorism, leaders from the 10-member ASEAN and from the United States, China, Japan, India, South Korea, Russia, New Zealand and Australia, also conducted extensive talks on the South China Sea disputes.

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang on Sunday put forward a five-point proposal to ease rising tensions in the South China Sea, even as Beijing admitted to building military facilities in the area.

Control of the South China Sea has turned into a hot topic in recent years, with China contesting large parts of the sea claimed by other nations.

On top of that, many of the nations in dispute with China have conflicting claims to various islands. Many fear that China is attempting to bulk up its claims with building projects and is willing to back up those claims with military force.

Liu Zhenmin, China’s deputy foreign minister for Asian affairs, criticized the so-called intrusion of a US warship that sailed within 12 nautical miles of a Chinese reef in the South China Sea as a “political provocation” in the name of “freedom of navigation.”

The true purpose of the US intrusion is to test how China will react to this kind of provocations, Liu told a press briefing at the end of the East Asia Summit in Malaysia.

He said the premier’s proposal included the settlement of disputes through consultations and negotiations and for countries outside the region to respect and support efforts of those in the region to solve the row.

Liu also admitted that China is building military facilities on islands and reefs in the South China Sea as part of its national defence policy.

“Those islands and reefs are far from China’s mainland, it is necessary to maintain and build necessary military facilities,” he said.

“But one should never link such military facilities with efforts to militarize the islands and reefs and to militarize the South China Sea,” he said.

Liu said Beijing’s reclamation efforts in the sea ended in June, but construction of facilities is continuing.

Many countries in the region, including the Philippines and Vietnam, deny China’s claim to most of the South China Sea. But Beijing has rapidly reclaimed land and expanded the islets to build airports, runways and other constructions.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.