Written by China Global Television Network

An international summit concerning the interests of China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Brunei and Indonesia in the South China Sea is to be arranged in Geneva this June, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres announced Sunday. The meeting will address southeastern Asian nations’ conflicting claims to the sea territory in light of ongoing tensions. Non-claimant states including the United States, United Kingdom, France and Russia will also participate. “The US will advocate for removal of Chinese presence in the South China Sea and work to keep the territory international waters,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. Representatives from no other participating nations have announced their intentions.

The summit will be arbitrated by a UN committee to be announced. Guterres expressed that each country involved will be allotted a “fair and limited” assignment of diplomatic representatives. Outside nations will also be invited to observe the closed proceedings but will not be considered in the negotiations. Spokespersons on behalf of South Korea, Japan and Germany also announced their participation Sunday.

The summit is an abrupt diplomatic move following the controversial Hague tribunal ruling of 2016. Following the tribunal’s condemnation of China’s activity in the South China Sea, Chinese authorities reaffirmed their commitment to protecting an area they have claimed since the nation’s most ancient dynasties. China has consistently defended its territorial sovereignty of the Sea. As such, they have utilized the area for defense and economic development, whereas opposing and neighboring countries have responded negatively to China’s actions and lobbied for their own interests.

Several countries have previously expressed concern for militarization of the Sea as well as interest in the Sea’s natural gas and oil reserves. The upcoming meeting is expected to debate the competing agendas of several world powers, not limited to China’s nine-dash line, the Philippine-Chinese militarization conflict and Russia’s support of Vietnam.

If successful in coming to a compromise, the summit may prove to be a turning point for Chinese diplomatic relations with countries within and beyond southeast Asia. Although China has maintained longstanding power in the region, pressure from their ally Russia may outweigh their vision for the South China Sea. Other alliances participating in the summit, including the US and Philippines, will complicate the interests being weighed in the use of the contested territory.

At the meeting, superpowers will work with China’s smaller neighbors to establish an agreement approved by all parties, Guterres claimed. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Geng Shuang responded less enthusiastically, stating, “The People’s Republic of China has agreed to participate in the upcoming summit. Additional details will be announced when appropriate.”

Further announcements from participating nations are expected in the coming weeks. China Global Television Network will keep you up to date on how China’s and its neighboring countries’ positions in the South China Sea are being debated among diplomatic powers from the East and West.