Tensions over the South China Sea have resulted in a stalemate during the regional summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Patrick Devillers, a friend of Bo Xilai and his wife Gu Kailai, has been released from Cambodia and flown to China to aid in the investigation.
Top Stories for the week of July 16, 2012 in the People¡¯s Republic of China
ASEAN Nations fail to produce joint statement at regional summit
For the first time in its 45-year history, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) failed to produce a joint statement at its regional summit hosted in Cambodia last week. Analysts attribute the disagreement to rifts among member countries¡¯ views on how to settle disputes in the South China Sea. China supposedly exploited these rifts, pressuring Cambodia to reject a proposal put forth by the Philippines and Vietnam which mentions their territorial disputes with China; China¡¯s position is that there are no disputes because the territory is not disputed¡ªthe territory is ¡°clearly¡± Chinese. Additionally, China prefers discussing the issue through bi-lateral negotiations, not in multi-lateral forums. Brunei, one of the claimants in the South China Sea, will be the head of next years¡¯ summit where the issue will likely be back on the agenda.
(Voice of America, July 19)
Frenchman with links to Bo Xilai case returns to China
Patrick Devillers, a Frenchman arrested in Cambodia in June at the request of Beijing for his involvement with the Bo family, was freed on July 6 and flew to Shanghai on July 7 to assist in the investigation of the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood. Devillers was detained by Cambodian police on June 13 at the request of Beijing, but Cambodian officials refused to extradite him to China without further proof after pressure from the French government. Devillers, an architect, has close ties with disgraced former Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai and Bo¡¯s wife, Gu Kailai, who is suspected of murdering Heywood in November 2011. Devillers worked with the family on several architecture projects and business ventures. According to the Cambodian government, Beijing has promised Devillers legal immunity in exchange for his cooperation with the investigation.
China takes new measures to boost ties with Africa, $20 billion loans offered
On July 19, at the fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Chinese President Hu Jintao pledged $20 billion in new loans to African countries. Hu said that the new loans, doubling the amount China committed in 2009, are given in support of peace and development in Africa and to boost the Sino-African strategic partnership. They will be used to assist the development of infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, and small and medium-sized enterprises in African countries over the next three years. This is just another measure taken by China to further strengthen its increasingly strong economic ties with Africa to ensure China¡¯s continued access to the continent¡¯s natural resources. While China-Africa trade totaled $166.3 billion in 2011 and more than 50 African countries received $15 billion FDI from China, China¡¯s growing presence in the continent and the lack of social responsibilities of Chinese firms have prompted criticism both in Africa and internationally.
Summaries by Emily Calvert, Robert Hinck, and Christina Zhao, China Program interns at the Carter Center.