Asean, China approve sea code framework

Asean, China approve sea code framework

Until China's rivals (and especially the United States) decide to back up their rhetoric with action, Beijing will continue to shrug off their criticisms and plow ahead in the South China Sea, as its opponents sputter ineffectually from the sidelines.

It once again underscores the strong political will of China and the ASEAN countries to work together to maintain stability in the South China Sea and sustain the positive momentum they have established in their relations.

According to Japanese government sources, in the EAS foreign ministers' meeting, Kono said regarding China's military buildup in the South China Sea, "We strongly oppose any unilateral acts to try to change the status quo based on military power".

The foreign ministers also expressed the anticipation that as China and ASEAN celebrate the 15th anniversary of the establishment of strategic partnership next year, the two sides would strengthen strategic synergy, deepen cooperation in economy, trade, innovation, connectivity, tourism and other areas so as to bring the strategic partnership to a new level.

They called on "all claimants to make and clarify their maritime claims" and to "resolve disputes peacefully in accordance with the worldwide law of the sea".

On July 25, Wang urged ASEAN to reject "nonregional forces" that want to stir up trouble in the South China Sea, an apparent reference to the USA and Japan, which have carried out maritime exercises there.

Australia, the United States and Japan have denounced island-building and militarisation of the South China Sea in a joint statement likely to prompt an angry response from China.

Even China, the country's only ally, told its neighbor to stop the missile tests.

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This was followed by the call for a "Code of Conduct for the South China Sea", which was given its own acronym, "COC".

Mr Sokhonn said Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte had asked his foreign affairs minister to tell Asean foreign ministers that he wanted the communique "to reflect the actual situation".

Vietnam, which has long pursued the most determined defence of its territorial claims, had argued that any agreement would be meaningless unless it were legally binding.

In July 2016, the arbitral tribunal in the Hague ruled that Beijing has no legal or historical basis for its nine-dash line, which demarcates its claims to nearly the entire South China Sea.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi met his North Korean counterpart Ri Hong-Yo before a major regional security forum being hosted by the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

But Wang said China will only agree to start negotiations on the sea code "if there is no more disruption from non-regional parties and when the situation in the South China Sea is generally stable".

Kono said at a press conference Monday that Japan supported the USA in its activities in the South China Sea to ensure freedom of navigation and in a veiled reference to China, opposed "any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force".

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