ASEAN ministers endorse framework code in South China Sea

Randolph Lopez
August 7, 2017

Foreign ministers of the ASEAN nations congratulated China on the success of the recent Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, thanked China for its support on ASEAN's community building, recognized the positive progress of ASEAN-China ties in the past year and agreed with the depth and achievements of the China-ASEAN relations.

The issue of Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions has also been commented on by diplomatic sources, some of them likely from Asean member states, who claim that the Asean foreign ministers' statement on the developments in the Korean Peninsula are a rehash of what was issued last April. "That is also provided for in the just concluded UN Security Council Resolution endorsed by the 15-member National Security Council, including the U.S.".

Vietnam also wanted ASEAN to insist in the statement that a planned code of conduct for the sea with China be "legally binding", which Beijing opposes.

The United States said it would also seek to build unified pressure on the North at the Manila event - known as the ASEAN Regional Forum.

He affirmed Vietnam's consistent stance on the importance of peace, stability, overflight and maritime security and safety in the East Sea to peace and stability in the region.

The Philippines brought its dispute with China to arbitration in 2013 and a Hague-based court ruled in 2016 that China's nine-dash-line claim has no basis in worldwide law.

Among the topics of immediate concern are the South China Sea, North Korea and Muslim militants.

The communiqué did not mention China, which has been documented to have undertaken large-scale reclamation and improvement works on man-made islands in the South China Sea.

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Critics say the outline of key principles is lopsidedly in China's favor and suspect that Beijing may have consented to it to divert protests as it tries to complete and fortify man-made islands in the South China Sea with a missile defense system.

The Philippines, under previous president Benigno Aquino, had been one of the most vocal critics of China and filed a case before a UN-backed tribunal.

"The leaders of ASEAN and China are expected to announce the formal start of negotiations on the code at their summit in November", Bolivar told reporters.

While the minister did not refer to specific outside parties, he previously urged the ASEAN to resist outside influence when dealing with the dispute.

A joint working group is set to meet in late August to "discuss modalities for the negotiations of the actual code of conduct", said Bolivar.

China used those 15 years to cement its claims, while continuing to get ASEAN to issue ever-weaker statements of opposition, according to the analysts.

The event is taking place as Philippine security forces battle Islamic State-aligned gunmen who have since May been occupying parts of Marawi, the nation's main Muslim city about 800 kilometres (500 miles) to the south of Manila.

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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