Published: Sun, August 06, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

ASEAN, Beijing adopt framework for crafting code on South China Sea

ASEAN, Beijing adopt framework for crafting code on South China Sea

Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have endorsed a framework for a code of conduct (COC) to govern the disputed South China Sea, Foreign Affairs spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar said Saturday.

05 de agosto de 2017, 10:53Manila, Aug 5 (Prensa Latina) The foreign ministers of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) are meeting here today amid expectations on relations between the Philippines and the United States.

Topping the agenda are North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile tests, an attempt to temper South China Sea disputes and unease over a siege by pro-Islamic State group militants in the southern Philippine city of Marawi, which has dragged on for more than two months.

Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines, however, all claim some or all of the South China Sea and its myriad shoals, reefs and islands.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also said during his visit to Australia in March that as one of the largest traders of goods in the world, China's interests are at stake in the region, where a large proportion of aircraft and ships that fly over or sail through are engaged in China's trade with the rest of the world.

Wang is referring to the Declaration of the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea, a 2002 document that was meant to facilitate a peaceful resolution to the maritime conflict.

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The South China Sea has always been the most divisive issue for ASEAN, with China's influence looming large over its activities.

The foreign ministers also welcomed in the statement the adoption of a framework Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea which has been agreed with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

"If there are still some non-regional forces or forces in the region - they don't want to see stability in the South China Sea and they still want to stir up trouble.we need to stand together and say "no" to them together", Wang said in a speech at the Foreign Affairs Department on July 25.

The South China Sea chapter in the latest draft communique, a negotiated text subject to changes, is a watered-down version of one issued in Laos past year.

The statement was issued separately, rather than included in ASEAN's customary communique at the end of the foreign ministers meeting.

"But of course the caveat there is, we have to have an effective Code of Conduct".

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"It would appear China has never lost in terms of seeing the language of ASEAN forum statements being toned down", Ei Sun Oh, adjunct senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, told AFP.

No time than now is better for all parties to value the sense of community that exists in the South China Sea, object to interference of any form, and move the COC negotiations in the right direction.

The framework aims to "establish a rules-based framework containing a set of norms" to ensure closer cooperation among parties to avoid disputes.

Setting a rough outline of a COC created to prevent clashes in the South China Sea, the draft marked a crucial achievement and was hailed as a pivotal milestone for further talks.

ASEAN on Saturday failed to issue the customary statement, over what diplomats said was disagreement about whether to make oblique references to China's rapid expansion of its defense capabilities on artificial islands in disputed waters.

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