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At ASEAN Meeting, Territorial Dispute Getting Delegates’ Attention

Leaders from 1.Southeast Asian nations are meeting in Kuala Lumpur, the capital
of Malaysia. The leaders have called for a 2.peaceful settlement (perdamaian
wilayah) of competing 3.territorial claims (pengakuan wilayah) in the South
China Sea. Their calls are a sign of growing tensions because of Chinese activities
in the Spratly 4.Islands.

Malaysian 5.Prime Minister Najib Razak is serving (bekerja/melayani) as


chairman of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. He told leaders
of the 6.10-nations group on Monday to follow peaceful settlement claims in the
South China Sea. Those waters are said to be rich in oil and other 7.natural
resources.

Mr. Najib 8. Urged completion (mendesak kesepakatan) of talks on a draft or


planned Code of Conduct governing (menandai kekuasaan) use of the South China
Sea 9. Negotiations on the measure began in 2002.

“We need to peacefully (secara damai) manage differences closer to home,


including 10.overlapping (bertumpang tindih) maritime claims, without increasing
tensions (ketegangan). Recent (perkembangan) developments have raised
11.concerns (kecemasan) about the South China Sea - and given the importance of
its 12.sea lanes to international trade, it is natural that almost any 13.occurrence
(insiden) there will attract global attention. ASEAN must address these
developments in a. Proactive, but also in a positive and constructive way."
China’s land reclamation has increased tensions

Tensions over territorial claims in the South China Sea have 14.intensified
(diperkuat) after the recent release of 15.satellite images. They showed that China
is taking steps to develop the disputed (dipersengketakan/diperebutkan) Spratly
Islands. The waters 16.around the islands are believed to be rich in oil and natural
gas. 17. Observers (pengamat) believe China is expanding (melebarkan) its claim
to the area by 18.building military bases and airstrips.

South China Sea Territorial Claims

The Spratly Islands are more than 3,000 kilometers from China. They are 19.860
kilometers from the Philippines and even closer to the coast of Vietnam. Malaysia,
Brunei and Taiwan have claimed parts of the area around the islands.

In 2012, China and ASEAN did make progress in talks about the draft 20.Code of
Conduct. The goal was to protect the political, 21.economic and territorial
interests of states in the area.

Mr. Najib said he would be pressing for more progress in talks this week.

“As Chairman (ketua), Malaysia hopes that we will achieve progress in our efforts
towards an early conclusion (keputusan) of a Code of Conduct.”
On Sunday, Philippine 22.Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario called on
ASEAN to press China to immediately stop its “.massive (massif/besar)
reclamations” of land. Mr. 23.Del Rosario said China was in a position to
effectively take control of the South China Sea. He said this would have effects
24.reaching beyond Southeast Asia.

Vietnam also 25.opposes (menentang) Chinese claims in the area. Last year,
violent (kekerasan) anti-Chinese protests followed a move by China 26.to set up
an oil drilling platform (pengeboran minyak) in waters claimed by Vietnam. China
later withdrew (mencabut) the structure.

However, observers note there are deep divisions in ASEAN. Many 27.Southeast
Asian countries are heavily (dng berat) dependent on China’s economy for their
own economic growth. This makes a 28.unified (disatukan) effort to balance
China’s economic power a difficult issue.

For example, China is a 29.major trading partner with Laos, Cambodia and
Myanmar. These countries have no claims in the South China Sea.

Also, Thailand has increased military ties with China. Links between the sides
have 30.expanded since the Thai military ousted Thailand’s government in May of
last year.

In 2012, ASEAN countries failed to reach agreement over how to deal with
China’s activities in the South China Sea because of divisions between 31.its
members.
I’m Mario Ritter.

Ron Corben reported this story for VOA from Bangkok. Mario Ritter wrote it for
VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

Reclamation – n. to make land available for use by changing its condition;


reclaiming land from the sea

Proactive – adj. controlling a situation by making things happen or by preparing


for future problems

Conduct – n. the way that a person or group behaves in a place or situation; v. to


guide or lead; to direct the performance of someone or something

How do you think ASEAN should deal with the territorial dispute? Let us know in
the comment section below.