China, ASEAN agree on sea code draft framework

Jerome Frank
August 7, 2017

Ministers reiterated in a joint statement their grave concerns over the escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula due to the North's two ICBM tests last month, saying the launches threaten world stability.

In the statement, the ministers urged Pyongyang to immediately and fully comply with its obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions.

FOREIGN ministers from Southeast Asia and China yesterday adopted a negotiating framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea.

Clearly, the 50-year-old Asean has to evolve into a true regional bloc by developing a unified voice that reflects the aspirations of a genuine Asean Economic Community and its population of more than 600 million, not the vested interest of a single member state alone that panders in turn to the interest of any purveyor of influence and lucre aspiring to dominate the larger Asian region.

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.

First, foreign ministers of China and ASEAN recognize the COC framework and with all necessary preparatory work done, announce the initiation of the substantive consultations at a proper time within this year.

He has ignored an global court ruling dashing China's regional maritime claims in a case brought by his predecessor, helping him to secure $24 billion in loan and investment pledges from Beijing.

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Like in a previous meeting in Laos, the draft framework contains only the elements and is not the final, legally binding document, but the conclusion of the framework could be considered a milestone among the competing countries that include (aside from the Philippines and China) Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and Taiwan. Vietnam is on its own to have stronger language on the South China Sea.

However, the agreement did not stop China from building military structures over disputed islands.

Since taking office a year ago, Duterte has advocated closer ties with China as part of a more a independent foreign policy for the Philippines. This in turn led to offers of billions of dollars in investments or aid from China.

"There is no consensus yet", the diplomat said, adding the drafting committee was tasked with continuing the negotiations on Saturday night.

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 government on Friday welcomed the visit of United States (US) Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other top officials to participate in the ASEAN-related meetings and discuss terrorism, security and other issues affecting the Philippines and the US.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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