iconimg Saturday, August 29, 2015

Phnom Penh/Beijing, November 21, 2012
When US President Barack Obama and more than a dozen leaders arrived in Cambodia for a regional summit meeting this week, only one of them was feted with banners strung from the venue gates.

"Welcome Prime Minister Wen Jiabao!" one proclaimed. "Long live the People's Republic of China!" read another.

As the leaders left, the green-and-white banners were still festooned outside Phnom Penh's Peace Palace, a fitting reminder of China's powerful and growing clout as Beijing uses its influence to win friends and frustrate those uneasy about its sweeping territorial claims.

One Asian diplomat at the East Asia Summit, which included heads of state from 10 Southeast Asia countries and counterparts from the US, China, Japan and other Asia-Pacific nations, said: "China has been throwing its weight around and buying the loyalties."

A prime example is Cambodia whose PM  Hun Sen helped China to notch up a succession of diplomatic victories at the summit.

A closing statement by Hun Sen, this year's chair of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), made no mention of the South China Sea, another victory for China's attempts to prevent multilateral talks on the dispute.