ASEAN stresses self-restraint, non-militarization in South China Sea

ASEAN stresses self-restraint, non-militarization in South China Sea

China claims almost all of the strategically vital sea, including waters approaching the coasts of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

According to a copy of a draft obtained by Agence France-Presse, Vietnam lobbied for ASEAN to express serious concern over "construction" in the sea, in reference to China's ramped up building of artificial islands in the disputed waters in recent years.

"When the situation in the South China is generally stable, and if there is no major disruption from outside parties, with that as the precondition then we will consider during the November leaders' meeting, we will jointly announce the official start of the COC consultation", Wang told reporters.

A Vietnamese delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh participated in the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting (AMM 50) opened in Manila, the Philippines, on August 5.

"For the Trump administration, it's first about isolating and addressing the North Korea threat and later perhaps about re-balancing China and regaining a bigger place at the Asean table", the article quoted Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, as saying.

"The role they play is just to make sure that China just doesn't do what they want to do", Romualdez said on Thursday in Manila, referring to the United States military.

While the Asean foreign ministers have endorsed a framework code of conduct on the West Philippine Sea-as Manila refers to the South China Sea within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone-the Philippines is maintaining its preference for a legally binding document.

Tillerson will also participate in the East Asia Summit Ministerial and the U.S. -ASEAN Ministerial.

China has proposed a three-step vision to step up consultations on the COC, Wang said.




Third, to designate 2018 as China-ASEAN Year of Innovation, give full play to the complementarity of innovation-driven development of China and innovation-driven growth of ASEAN, and launch the upgrading of China-ASEAN cooperation.

"It is not that easy, but it is the direction that we need to work together".

When asked on their position regarding the code being legally binding, Wang said he would leave it up to the ministers.

When asked whether Pyongyang would agree to start six-party talks, Wang said it is not easy.

"What really matters is that the Foreign Minister of the DPRK is here, so he has the chance to listen to the views of those parties regarding the situation in the Korean Peninsula".

With regard to the different opinions being raised against China, which seemed bent on militarizing the South China Sea despite a ruling by the International Tribunal, Wang said China does not comment on which individual country or countries have raised the issue.

This progress has also set the stage for Singapore to fulfil its agenda as ASEAN chairman next year, added Dr Balakrishnan.

"As long as we commit to dialogue and consultation and global law, including Unclos, we will be able to stabilize the situation and find a way out".

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