ASEAN Ends Impasse and Urges Non-Militarisation in South China Sea

13 August, 2017, 23:39 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • Honor guard raise the ASEAN flag outside the Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hanoi to mark the 50th anniversary of ASEAN Aug. 8 2017. REUTERS

He said Singapore, Brunei and especially the Philippines had noticed positive developments in the South China Sea.

In 2012, as chair of the ASEAN meet, Cambodia helped kill a similar statement on the South China Sea and for the first time in its 45-year history the body failed to issue a joint statement after a foreign ministers' meeting.

The foreign ministers agreed to start operating a bilateral aerial and maritime communication mechanism as soon as possible in order to prevent any unintended clashes between the two countries in the East China Sea.

Also on Sunday the foreign ministers of ASEAN and China adopted a negotiating framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea, a move they hailed as progress but seen by critics as a tactic to buy China time to consolidate its maritime power.

Some Asean ministers had not wanted land reclamation in the disputed islands to be mentioned in the communique.

Agreement on the framework was reached at the 50th Ministerial Meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the founding of ASEAN.

The United States likes to accuse Beijing of trying to militarize the South China Sea, but it is the USA and its close allies that are doing that: The United Kingdom being the latest to jump on the freedom of navigation bandwagon by proposing to send warships to the South China Sea next year. He was apparently referring to the United States, which China has, for the longest time, accused of meddling in what it says is an Asian dispute that should be resolved only by the countries involved.

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The North also sent its Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho to the annual meeting.

But the Asian giant had always been perceived as delaying negotiations with Asean for the maritime code to allow it to complete its land reclamations in the South China Sea without any regulatory restrictions.

To prevent conflicts and maintain order in the South China Sea, it is indispensable to lay down legally binding global rules.

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

Criticising ongoing "land reclamation, construction of outposts, (and) militarisation of disputed features" in the disputed sea, the three countries said any COC must be "legally binding, meaningful and effective", a demand noticeably absent from the Asean statement. The International Court of Arbitration in The Hague denied much of China's territorial claim to the South China Sea.

"We sent a message to them that all ASEAN countries are not happy with the actions of North Korea that still continue to violate the United Nations resolution", he told reporters, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Contrary to the statements of Cayetano and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that Beijing has stopped reclaiming in the South China Sea, a Washington-based think tank released satellite imagery showing that Beijing did not stop its reclamation activities in mid-2015.

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