March 17, 2018

Philippines rejects advice on South China Sea row

13 August 2017, 09:27 | Melvin Schneider

China's foreign minister Wang Yi

China's foreign minister Wang Yi

Vietnam alongside other countries also appealed to the partner countries and the worldwide community to continue to support the efforts of ASEAN and China to fully and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties on the East Sea and push for early and result-oriented negotiations for an effective and legally-binding Code of Conduct of Parties on the East Sea.

Mr Sokhonn said Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte had asked his foreign affairs minister to tell Asean foreign ministers that he wanted the communique "to reflect the actual situation". Despite calling for non-militarisation in the South China Sea and raising concerns about "land reclamation", the statement did not insist on a legally binding code of conduct for managing the area, as Vietnam had pushed for. "In due time, China dropped that and said, "Let's approve the framework and let's go now to the COC", Mr Cayetano told reporters.

"Some countries are just being practical. It doesn't mean we're giving up with legally binding".

In the period, the role and position of ASEAN have been asserted firmly, which is reflected through the strength of the ASEAN Community, the close connectivity in politics, economics and culture among the members, and development in relations between ASEAN and its partners as well as countries' support for ASEAN's central role in regional processes. "They have accomplished more than that", she said.

The final version of the communique "emphasised the importance of non-militarisation and self-restraint".

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The COC framework was agreed upon in May during a senior officials' meeting on the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in Guiyang, southwest China's Guizhou Province.

The event was jointly organised by embassies of ASEAN countries in South Africa, namely Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

In a joint statement after their foreign ministers met on the sidelines of the same gathering on Sunday, the US, Japan and Australia delivered a noticeably sterner rebuke to Beijing.

It could be recalled that the issue on China's land reclamation and militarization in the South China Sea had been omitted on Asean leaders' joint statement released in May.

Washington-based think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (Amti-CSIS) on Thursday disproved the claims of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano that China is no longer doing reclamation work on any of the disputed islands in the South China Sea.

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