Foreign Minister Alan Peter Cayetano met Monday with his North Korean counterpart to convey ASEAN's deep concern about tensions on the Korean Peninsula following Pyongyang's recent missile tests. The framework is said to include such principles as ensuring maritime safety and freedom of navigation. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi would not comment on whether Beijing supported the code being legally binding. If it is not legally binding, the code can not be expected to impose a curb on China when it carries out activities that violate the criteria.
They also mentioned in their 46-page statement a vague reference to an global arbitration ruling past year that invalidated China's historical claims to virtually all of the strategic waterway.
They urged South China Sea claimants "to refrain from land reclamation, construction of outposts, militarization of disputed features, and undertaking unilateral actions that cause permanent physical change to the marine environment in areas pending delimitation", the statement said.
China claims almost all of the sea, through which $5 trillion in annual shipping trade passes, and its artificial islands have raised concerns it could eventually build military bases there and establish de facto control over the waters. To fend off global criticisms, China became positive about holding talks with ASEAN over relevant issues. Tillerson says he and the South Korean diplomat plan to discuss the sanctions during their meeting, along with next steps to pressure the North.
China had always been perceived as delaying negotiations with ASEAN for the maritime code to allow it to launch and complete its land reclamations in the South China Sea without any such regulatory restrictions.
It can not be overlooked that China is making headway in its attempt to undermine ASEAN unity against the backdrop of its economic and military strength.
South Korea's top diplomat has strongly condemned North Korea's repeated provocations and urged the reclusive state to give up its nuclear weapons program and "come out to the road toward peace and stability", Seoul's foreign ministry said Tuesday. The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed, in effect, to postpone dealing with its dispute with China in exchange for a massive amount of economic assistance from that nation. The ARF was attended by 27 countries, including the 10 ASEAN member states and major regional powers.
Manila: A scheduled meeting between the foreign ministers of China and Vietnam was cancelled on the sidelines of a regional gathering, Chinese embassy officials said, amid growing tension between the two countries over the South China Sea.
The meaning of ASEAN's existence could be diluted if divisions among its members continue to widen in the face of China's influence.
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