North Korea top of agenda at ASEAN meeting

Gladys Abbott
August 8, 2017

The DOC of Parties, which was signed by ASEAN member states and China in 2002, was a measure to settle disputes and prevent tensions in the South China Sea.

The code framework is an outline for what China and ASEAN call "consultations" on a formal agreement, which could start later this year.

The region itself is not a treaty partner of the USA and it's up to the 10 Southeast Asian countries to respond firmly to China's posture in the South China Sea, he said.

Philippine academic and security analyst Richard Heydarian summarised the latest developments in stronger terms "Overall it's a slam dunk diplomatic victory for China", he said. The foreign ministers from other countries, including Japan, the United States, China and the two Koreas, will join the meeting later to complete the attendance by all 27 member countries.

Disagreement partly over whether to include criticism, even indirectly, of China's increasingly assertive moves in the contested territories delayed the issuance of a joint communique of ASEAN foreign ministers after they held their annual meetings on Saturday in Manila.

The three countries also urged ASEAN to comply with an arbitration ruling that invalidated China's claim over the so-called nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea.

The joint statement that was scheduled to be released after the ASEAN ministers was delayed because of the dispute over the wording on the sea issue, one diplomat told AFP.

"Vietnam is adamant and China is effectively using Cambodia to champion its interests", one of the diplomats said.

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China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, and has heavily militarized some islands in the region and expanded other territories with major land reclamation work, turning sandbars into islands and equipping them with airfields, ports and weapons systems. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi praised on Monday New Zealand for being objective and prudent on regional issues, expecting the country to continue to play a constructive role in regional peace and stability.

"From what I gathered during my meetings with the 10 ASEAN foreign ministers, what I felt is that they have displayed a positive attitude including on the issue of the South China Sea", Wang told reporters at a media briefing yesterday.

According to Asean diplomats, Vietnam lobbied for the joint communique to mention "land reclamation", and "non-militarisation".

During their meeting, Tillerson, Kono and Bishop stressed the need to protect freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, a key shipping lane believed to be rich in marine and mineral resources.

China and South-East Asian countries may start negotiations on a code of conduct in the disputed South China Sea this year if there is "no major disruption" from outside parties, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Sunday. Beijing wants the disputes to be resolved through one-on-one negotiations.

With the situation "stable and (with) no interference from external parties", negotiations could begin when leaders of Asean and China meet in the Philippines in November, Mr Wang added, in reference to the Asean Summit.

Ri says in the speech that responsibility for the Korean Peninsula crisis lies exclusively with Washington. She says it was a "very, very good outcome". "By the end of this year they have a second meeting", he said. "That has no basis in global law".

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