China, Asean Agree on Framework for South China Sea Code of Conduct

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BEIJING (AP) — A framework agreement between China and the Association of Southeast Asia Nations on a code of conduct in the South China Sea marks a potentially significant step toward cooling tensions in the strategic waterway, analysts said Friday.

The permanent secretary of Singapore's foreign ministry, Chee Wee Kiong, said what he called a "draft" framework would be submitted to a meeting between the foreign ministers of China and the ASEAN states in August in the Philippines.

Both sides reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace and stability, freedom of navigation in and flight above the South China Sea, addressing their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force, through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned. "We just hope when relevant countries conduct such exchange and cooperation they should bear in mind such activities not hurt the interests of other countries or have a negative impact to regional peace and stability", Hua said. The Guiyang meeting was the 14th senior officials' meeting on the implementation of the November 2002 non-binding Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

"The consultation on the COC started back in 2013 and over the past four years of concerted efforts, this process has been going on steadily and the completion of the COC framework has delivered a tangible milestone achievement with this process", he added.

Chito Santa Romana, Philippine Ambassador to China, says that Manila didn't get the assurances it wanted from the U.S. and the worldwide community that they would support the Philippines in any conflict with China over the South China Sea.

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In a statement, Carpio said the Philippines should run to another arbitral tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to protect the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

He said he "does not agree with what China is doing" and prodded its officials "do something about illegal drugs brought here from Chinese sources". Beijing expresses strong opposition whenever United States naval ships pass through the area, even though it maintains there is no threat to freedom of navigation. It also invalidated China's nine-dash line.

Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte says Chinese President Xi Jinping threatened him with war if the Philippines begins drilling for oil in a disputed part of the South China Sea. ASEAN has always been divided over the issue of the South China Sea, with some of the non-claimant states in particular (with the notable exception of Indonesia and Singapore) having expressed reservations about pushing back too hard against Beijing on the issue.

Many worldwide non-claimant nations, particularly the United States, however, want the South China Sea to remain as global waters considering the fact that a high proportion of the world's trade passes through this region.

Mr Roberts said within ASEAN, "the views of the stabiliser countries - Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia - are unfortunately being undermined by other views".

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