China, ASEAN Approve Draft South China Sea Code of Conduct
China, ASEAN Approve Draft South China Sea Code of Conduct
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07 August, 2017, 01:09
China said Sunday it agreed with Southeast Asian nations on a draft framework for a legally binding code in disputed waters, with formal negotiations to begin this year, as it insisted that no "outside parties" should be involved.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the adoption of the framework created a solid foundation for negotiations that could start this year, if "the situation in the South China Sea is generally stable and on the premise that there is no major interference from outside parties".
This time around, the channels of diplomatic sources at the Asean foreign ministers now meeting in Manila, are abuzz about the strong dissenting voice of Vietnam urging the 10-member regional bloc to take a stronger stance against China's Asian hegemonic ambitions and creeping expansionism in disputed waters.
Jennings also said that the USA embassy in Manila stated on Friday that the United States would push Southeast Asian countries to "downgrade diplomatic engagements and exchanges" with North Korea before the Asean Regional Forum which Tillerson would also be attending in Manila next week.
China's rise is shadowing ASEAN celebrations. Thanks to our considerate efforts, the current situation in the South China Sea is showing positive momentum.
"But of course the caveat there is, we have to have an effective Code of Conduct".
"We don't want to prejudge the result of that", said Wang.
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But diplomatic sources say that is not the case at all, and that Vietnam is alone in lobbying for stronger language on the South China Sea issue, with the Philippines as host and chairman of Asean 2017 taking a more diplomatic approach in light of President Rodrigo Duterte's preferred policy of cajoling, instead of openly confronting, China.
Wang made no reference to Beijing's reclamation activities, but said in a statement that "China is seeking cooperation with ASEAN for development in the South China Sea".
All the afore-mentioned achievements testify to the fact that China and ASEAN have the wisdom and capability to properly manage the disputes, formulate a set of regional rules that we all recognize, and preserve peace and stability in the South China Sea, according to the Chinese foreign minister. "We share the belief that no country has a ideal human rights situation", it said.
The primary focus is whether the code will be legally binding.
Philippine foreign secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said the ministers were divided over a U.S. proposal to suspend the North from the ASEAN Regional Forum, which will hold its annual meeting on Monday.
"The DOC has never been fully and effectively implemented".
He said both Malaysia and Thailand, where Tillerson is also scheduled to meet government officials next week, can expect their concerns on the Trump administration's relationship with them to be answered during the visit.
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