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


Christian Shepherd and Manuel Mogato August 6, 2017 / 5:47 PM

MANILA (Reuters) – Foreign ministers of Southeast Asia and China adopted on Sunday a negotiating framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea, a move they hailed as progress but seen by critics as tactic to buy China time to consolidate its maritime power.

The framework seeks to advance a 2002 Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea, which has mostly been ignored by claimant states, particularly China, which has built seven manmade islands in disputed waters, three of which are equipped with runways, surface-to-air missiles and radars.

All parties say the framework is only an outline for how the code will be established but critics say the failure to outline as an initial objective the need to make the code legally binding and enforceable, or have a dispute resolution mechanism, raises doubts about how effective the pact will be.

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.”

He told reporters there had been “really tangible progress” so there was “a need to cherish momentum on the South China Sea”.

Signing China up to a legally binding and enforceable code for the strategic waterway has long been a goal for claimant members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), some of which have sparred for years over what they see as China’s disregard for their sovereign rights and its blocking of fishermen and energy exploration efforts.

Beijing insists its activities are for defense purposes, in areas it considers its waters. 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.

Some critics and diplomats believe China’s sudden interest in the code after 15 years of delays is to drag out the negotiating process to buy time to complete its strategic objectives in the South China Sea, through which more than $3 billion of ship-borne trade passes annually.

WEAKER HAND

Opponents also say it is being pushed through at a time when the United States, long seen as a crucial buffer against China’s maritime assertiveness, is distracted by other issues and providing no real clarity about its security strategy in Asia, thus weakening ASEAN’s bargaining position.

The framework has not been made public but a leaked two-page blueprint seen by Reuters is broad and leaves wide scope for disagreement.

It urges a commitment to the “purposes and principles” of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) but does not specify adherence to it, for example.

A separate ASEAN document, dated May and seen by Reuters, shows that Vietnam pushed for stronger, more specific text in the framework, wanting mention of a dispute resolution mechanism and respecting “sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction”.

Sovereign rights cover entitlements to fish and extraction of natural resources.

Several ASEAN countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines, have said they still favor making the code legally binding, something experts say China is unlikely to agree to.

Wang said he would not try to anticipate what the code will comprise, but said whatever is signed must be adhered to.

Robespierre Bolivar, foreign ministry spokesman of host Philippines, said the adoption of the framework symbolised the commitment to creating a “substantive and effective” code.

Additional reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

Source: Reuters “ASEAN, China adopt framework for crafting code on South China Sea”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

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4 Comments on “ASEAN, China adopt framework for crafting code on South China Sea”

  1. Steve says:

    History has proven that foreign navies has intruded and invaded China via the SCS. In this degenerate age of ballistic and nuclear missiles, China has no hope of self defence without militarising those 7 engineered islands as a deterrence against an invasion especially stealthy US submarines. Seriously, none of the SCS littoral states will militarily support China in times of war. History has also proven that it was China that supported and participated in the Korean and Vietnam war against the US. Even in the Vietnam war, countries like Korea, PH and Thailand allied to US, supported and participated in the invasion causing untold sufferings.

    The US has always used it’s military and gunboat diplomacy, especially the SCS in the last decade hoping to create chaos and influence ASEAN decisions against China. There will be external interference from other nations especially the US, therefore China need to fortify it’s China lake, whilst agreeing to adopt a substantive and effective COC.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. johnleecan says:

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

    So Reuters’ article means China shouldn’t have agreed for a code of conduct in the South China Sea so China wouldn’t be accused of buying time. Also, the Philippines shouldn’t be a party to these negotiations since they don’t recognize the South China Sea but only recognize west Philippine sea, wherever that is.

    “A separate ASEAN document, dated May and seen by Reuters, shows that Vietnam pushed for stronger, more specific text in the framework, wanting mention of a dispute resolution mechanism and respecting “sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction”.”

    Reuters should show the above Asean document since Reuters are known for fabricating news and evidence. Another is Reuters trying to show that Vietnam is the aggrieved party here but in reality, Vietnamese stole Chinese territories and exploited China’s resources when it was weak. Now the Dragon has awaken and Vietnamese, Philippine and Japanese government, including the envious Indians, are having nightmares and knocking their knees so loud that they’re sounding like a skeleton chattering its teeth in a horror movie.

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    • Steve says:

      Agree – China has already consolidated its maritime power, only need to fortify the SCS into China lake with advanced radar, underwater detection facilities and weaponise those islands for defensive measures. Have to stop VN from further looting.

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  3. alking1957 says:

    More stupid western propaganda. Fact is Vietnam is the most aggresive and aggregious is grabbing those SCS islands and building military posts; and noting of thatis mentioned here.

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