Cautious progress in South China Sea talks

19 Mai, 2017, 17:08 | Author: Come Portier

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China on Thursday finished a draft framework for negotiating a code of conduct, despite regional scepticism whether Beijing will commit to rules likely to restrain its maritime ambitions.

China and ASEAN members yesterday approved the framework of the SCS Code of Conduct, a crucial step towards peacefully resolving territorial disputes in the area. Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea, despite partial counter-claims from Taiwan and several ASEAN members including the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

The report comes just two days after the rivals said in a joint communique China released Monday that they had agreed to "manage and properly control maritime disputes, not take any actions to complicate the situation or expand the dispute, and maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea".

China has installed rocket launchers on a disputed reef in the South China Sea to ward off Vietnamese military combat divers, Reuters reported citing a Chinese state-run newspaper, The Defense Times.

In a statement on May 18, Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar said the Philippines welcomes the completion of the drafting of the framework.

This has helped usher in a cordial atmosphere for talks on a Code of Conduct, thus paving the way for full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea agreed upon in 2002.

The participants have not mentioned dates for the adoption of a full code of conduct, and while Huang said he thought the sides could act as early as this year to seize the positive momentum, Storey said a final agreement was likely "some years off".

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For his part, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin and China-ASEAN Senior Officials' Meeting co-chair Liu Zhenmin commended his fellow senior officials from 10-member ASEAN for hard work and dedication.

There are more than 40 reef islands in the South China Sea which have been occupied and even garrisoned by other countries.

Reports of the missile build-up came as the Philippines and China were set to hold their first bilateral meeting on the South China Sea on Friday in Guiyang, China, with Ambassador Chito Sta.

Mr. Duterte visited Beijing for the second time last week and had separate dialogues with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on the sidelines of the China-sponsored Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

But the government also savaged critics, saying it can do what it likes on its own territory despite the land being heavily disputed.

China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in goods pass every year.

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