ASEAN, China agree to exercise self-restraint, avoid disputes in South China Sea

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
totalITemsFound:
maxPaginationLinks: 10
maxPossiblePages:
startIndex:
endIndex:

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China have vowed to avoid activities that could escalate tension in the South China Sea, as both affirm the need to “maintain the momentum” of the talks for a code of conduct in the contested waters.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 9) — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China have vowed to avoid activities that could escalate tension in the contested South China Sea.

This was agreed on during a special assembly on Monday among foreign ministers of the 10-member regional bloc and the East Asian giant, according to a statement by the meeting’s co-chairs Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Four ASEAN states, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia, as well as self-governing Taiwan, have asserted rights in the resource-rich waterway, over which China has sweeping claims.

Claimant nations have pledged to peacefully resolve maritime row in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) adopted in 1982, the statement read. The UNCLOS defines coastal and maritime boundaries and regulates seabed exploration outside territorial claims.

Concerned members also affirmed the need to “maintain the momentum” of the talks for a Code of Conduct, which will determine the only allowable actions countries can take in the South China Sea.

The foreign ministers said they intend to expedite the resumption of the textual negotiations of the COC through virtual platforms, although physical meetings “would remain the primary modality.”

ASEAN has been in talks with Beijing for nearly two decades over the nonaggression pact aimed at preventing clashes from erupting in the disputed waters. Progress has been slow, largely due to resistance from China, which continues to reject the UNCLOS-backed 2016 landmark ruling which invalidated its expansive territorial claims.

Among other issues tackled in the special ASEAN-China meeting are efforts to enhance public health and vaccine cooperation, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a separate statement, the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs said the ministers also pushed for progress in the implementation of the five-point consensus they earlier discussed to address the political turmoil in Myanmar.

The assembly was held in China in celebration of 30 years of dialogue relations between the two parties.

In late May, the Philippines and China also met to discuss the sea dispute during their sixth bilateral consultation mechanism. The Department of Foreign Affairs said both sides had “friendly and candid exchanges,” as Manila reiterated its long-standing call for Beijing's full adherence to the UNCLOS and the 2016 tribunal decision.

RELATED: China ‘remiss’ as bilateral partner to PH, party to UNCLOS, envoys say