ASEAN Ends Impasse and Urges Non-Militarisation in South China Sea

ASEAN Ends Impasse and Urges Non-Militarisation in South China Sea

The Asean Foreign Ministers will also attend the PMCs with ten Asean Dialogue Partners namely Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the United States (US).

China and the United States, as two permanent members of the UN Security Council, should enhance mutual trust and strengthen dialogue and cooperation on the basis of mutual respect, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Sunday.

"Parallel to this, ASEAN and China will continue to cooperate on such practical maritime cooperation efforts including management and prevention of conflicts among parties through confidence-building measures, as well as to prevent miscalculations on the ground", he said.

Critics, however, say the framework serves only as a brief outline of previously agreed principles and fails to mention concerns over China's newly built islands or an arbitration ruling previous year that invalidated Beijing's claims to virtually all of the South China Sea.

The United States' top diplomat for Asia says countries in the region should suspend work on improving, expanding or militarizing outposts so that a diplomatic resolution for disputes over the South China Sea can move forward.

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Released a day after the annual ministerial meeting in Manila on Saturday, the much-awaited statement defied Beijing and took a stronger stand on the South China Sea issue.

"Is it that some countries do not want to see greater stability in the South China Sea?" he asked.

That the framework is broad and leaves wide scope for disagreement has critics raising doubts about how effective the COC will be.

At the heart of these disputes are a series of barren islands in two groups - the Spratly Islands, off the coast of the Philippines, and the Paracel Islands, off the coasts of Vietnam and China.

Another diplomat said Cambodia also expressed concern over the ASEAN foreign ministers' issuance of a separate statement criticizing North Korea's two ICBM tests last month.

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Other claimants are ASEAN members Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei, as well as Taiwan.

"ASEAN set aside the tribunal ruling, didn't complain about continued Chinese militarization of the South China Sea, watered down its joint statements, and basically wasted a year, all so they could reiterate the same principles they already agreed to in the declaration on conduct 15 years ago", Poling said prior to Sunday's announcement.

The statement came after a meeting between Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, on the sidelines of a South-East Asian political forum in the Philippines.

The various challenges include the global super powers' interaction in many aspects, the tension in the Korean Peninsula, the dispute in South China Sea or other non-traditional security threats including transnational crime, human trafficking, cyberattacks, terrorism and climate change, she said.

Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have called on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) anew to exercise self-restraint with regards to its nuclear and missile tests, as they support for denuclearization of Pyongyang. She says in the past, there's been a pattern in which China complies with sanctions after a North Korean provocation, but then slips back over time.

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