ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meet in Philippines

Paterniano Del Favero
Agosto 9, 2017

The diplomat says the South China Sea may be settled faster and will likely not carry sensitive issues that China objects to because the ministers are aware of Beijing's crucial economic and trade relations with ASEAN member states.

Ms Bishop, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Japan's foreign minister Taro Kono issued their statement after the meeting on Monday.

Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said U.S. officials are also expected to address, with their Philippine counterparts, how to resolve the security situation in Marawi, by addressing the global threat of terrorism and increasing Philippine-U.S. economic and people-to-people engagement.

The debates among foreign ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at a security forum in the Philippines were the latest in years of struggles to deal with competing claims to the strategically vital sea. Vietnam's foreign ministry did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

He said the COC framework was a major step towards the realization of an effective code.

"China and Russian Federation voted with us".

The U.S., Australian and Japanese foreign ministers called Monday for a halt to land reclamation and military actions in the South China Sea and compliance with an arbitration ruling that invalidated China's vast claims to the disputed waters. "It lacks teeth because China has opposed making it legally binding and refused to include a dispute settlement mechanism", said Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser for Asia at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The ASEAN foreign ministers and their Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on Sunday adopted a framework for negotiating a code of conduct to defuse tensions in the sea.

"We wish Singapore well in these two roles", added Mr Wang.

"It was a friendly, positive and very successful meeting", he said.

Still, Ms. Thornton gave credit to the Chinese for supporting Saturday's vote in the United Nations against North Korea.

President Barack Obama had lavished attention on the region, where he spent part of his childhood and which has a population of more than 620 million and a collective economy of around $2.4 trillion, the third-largest in Asia behind those of China and Japan.

Although the language in the ASEAN communique reflected that in previous years, some countries pursuing deeper business ties with Beijing, such as Cambodia and the Philippines, had argued for dropping it.

"Do not violate the U.N.'s decision or provoke worldwide society's goodwill by conducting missile launching or nuclear tests", Wang said, in an unusually direct admonition.

Chinese structures and an airstrip on the man-made Subi Reef at the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea. Eugene Tan, an associate professor of law at the Singapore Management University, said there could be differences between the countries once Singapore takes over the ASEAN chairmanship. Singapore's three-year term as country coordinator began in 2015, taking over from Thailand.

The isolated country should also comply with its obligations in "relevant U.N. Security Council Resolutions", the ministers said in the final draft of their joint communique. "There is a view in Beijing that Singapore is the instigator of anti-China containment policies, not just within ASEAN but also that it wants a ring of pro-U.S. partners surrounding China - Japan, India and Australia", he said.

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