ASEAN, China adopt framework for South China Sea code of conduct


While foreign ministers of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Manila to celebrate the 50 anniversary of its establishment the consensus principles on which the body was founded find themselves under significant stress.

"For the Trump administration, it's first about isolating and addressing the North Korea threat and later perhaps about re-balancing China and regaining a bigger place at the Asean table", the article quoted Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, as saying.

"Our military of course, is very much tied to the United States, so that alliance remains strong and good", Romualdez said, adding that the U.S. remained the Philippines's strongest partner in fighting terrorism.

Wang said the situation between claimant states was quite different to previous years and was now more relaxed and conducive to stability.

China has always taken ASEAN as a priority in its foreign diplomacy and has always supported ASEAN in taking a central role in regional cooperation and a bigger role in dealing with global and regional affairs, he said. Actually, the 10 Asean countries don't have a consensus yet on some of the issues.

Its sweeping claims overlap with those of ASEAN members Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as Taiwan.

The Singapore-China relationship is in "good working order", said Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan on Sunday (Aug 6).

All sides fully acknowledged the positive momentum that the improving situation in the South China Sea is demonstrating and expressed their approval of the framework of the COC which they believe laid a sound foundation for the substantive consultations, Wang told reporters after the China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting.

Manufacturing sector continued output and new orders downtrend in July : Nikkei Index
It is expected that the index will fall back to 56.4 after a bullish reading around 57.8 last month. A Caixin/Markit survey covering China's services sector will be released on Wednesday.

The issue was also likely to top the agenda when ASEAN ministers meet with their dialogue partners, including the United States, Japan, China and Russian Federation for Asia's largest security forum on Monday.

Vietnam on Friday night sought to insert tough language against China in an ASEAN statement that was scheduled to be released after the Southeast Asian ministers wrapped up their own talks on Saturday.

China has proposed a three-step vision to step up consultations on the COC, Wang said.

"We need to get used to this kind of to-ing and fro-ing".

When asked on their position regarding the code being legally binding, Wang said he would leave it up to the ministers.

Wang also revealed the talks would push through if a precondition was followed.

The communiqué did not mention China, which has been documented to have undertaken large-scale reclamation and improvement works on man-made islands in the South China Sea.