“ASEAN, China adopt framework for crafting code on South China Sea”>Foreign ministers of Southeast Asia and China adopted on Sunday a negotiating framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea, a move they hailed as progress but seen by critics as tactic to buy China time to consolidate its maritime power.
The framework seeks to advance a 2002 Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea, which has mostly been ignored by claimant states, particularly China, which has built seven manmade islands in disputed waters, three of which are equipped with runways, surface-to-air missiles and radars.
Southeast Asian nations were battling today to find a compromise on how to deal with Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea. Diplomats involved in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN, Foreign Ministers meet told a news agency that they failed to release a joint statement as scheduled yesterday evening with Cambodia lobbyed hard for Beijing. They said, the tense follow-up negotiations this morning could still not end the stand-off.
The tense talks came after Vietnam, which also claims parts of the strategically vital sea, insisted that tough language be inserted into the statement expressing concern over Chinese land reclamation in the contested waters.
One of the diplomats said, Vietnam is adamant and China is effectively using Cambodia to champion its interests. Cambodia, one of China’s strongest allies within ASEAN, had firmly resisted. They said, Philippines is trying very hard to broker compromise language.
China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, including waters approaching the coasts of ASEAN members Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. China has in recent years expanded its presence in the sea by building artificial islands, which are capable of holding military bases.
All parties say the framework is only an outline for how the code will be established but critics say the failure to outline as an initial objective the need to make the code legally binding and enforceable, or have a dispute resolution mechanism, raises doubts about how effective the pact will be. Media agencies