ASEAN, China make progress on draft S. China Sea code of conduct

Cesar Mills
May 19, 2017

China and Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN) have completed the framework for the Code of Conduct (COC) for the disputed South China Sea.

Liu declined to give details about the framework and said it would remain confidential.

Vietnam occupied six islands, seventeen reefs and three banks; Taiwan has only one island and one reef; Malaysia has one artificial island and five reefs; Brunei claims a relatively small area including islands on Louisa reef; Indonesia claims are not on any island, but on maritime rights; the Philippines claims eight islands while China has eight reefs.

China has deployed anti-frogmen rocket launchers meant to fend off Vietnamese intrusions on one of its man-made islands in the contested South China Sea, Chinese state media reported Wednesday.

China said Thursday it has successfully extracted samples of natural gas hydrate for the first time in the South China Sea.

The Philippines, which chairs the 10-member ASEAN this year, has expressed hope of finalizing such an agreement during its leadership.

The binding code of conduct, which shall replace the non-binding 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, will lay down the rules for all claimant states.

The meeting was co-chaired by Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin and Permanent Secretary of Singapore's Foreign Ministry Chee Wee Kiong. "The draft framework will be an internal document and nobody should publish it", Liu said.

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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".

China was enraged by a ruling a year ago from a Hague tribunal invalidating most of its South China Sea claims in a case brought by the Philippines.

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

"We discussed the South China Sea issue and for the past months, there have been no major disruptions and the situation in the South China Sea and the region has been stable", he said.

ASEAN has always been divided over the issue of the South China Sea, with some of the non-claimant states in particular (with the notable exception of Indonesia and Singapore) having expressed reservations about pushing back too hard against Beijing on the issue.

An inaugural meeting between the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Foreign Ministry of China for the bilateral consultative mechanism in the South China Sea dispute will take place in Guiyang City, Guizhou Province.

The South China Sea is one of the world's busiest commercial waterways with more than Dollars 5 trillion worth of world trade shipped through it every year.

Other reports by GizPress

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