U.S. lauds ASEAN stand on sea row despite 'tremendous pressure'

Alan Cayetano Foreign Secretary of the Philippines.--AFP

Alan Cayetano Foreign Secretary of the Philippines.--AFP

She stressed that the U.S. shares concerns over the developments in the region that they consider to be "unconducive to regional stability, such as land reclamation". Now that an agreement has been reached, Beijing seems still to have the upper hand. Just as their agreement was being hailed as a milestone for two sides that have long failed to see eye to eye, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi set conditions for the talks to proceed.

Its top diplomat said that while his country and the 10-nation ASEAN bloc "all fully recognized that the situation in the South China Sea is showing signs of changes and things are moving toward a positive direction", some countries outside the region "are not seeing the positive changes" and are holding onto a mindset that "still stays in the past". It is easier to have binding rather than legally binding.

Regarding the East Sea issue, Vietnam has upheld the spirit of solidarity and a common voice of the ASEAN community to prevent different viewpoints from affecting the atmosphere of cooperation and outcomes of the meetings, while firmly protecting the country's interests.

In this regard, Geng remarked that China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) country members are focusing on strengthening cooperation to further the comprehensive and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and jointly develop regional standards. While it has verbally acknowledged a need to establish operating procedures in the area, it insists that these codes be non-legally binding.

Mr Sokhonn said Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte had asked his foreign affairs minister to tell Asean foreign ministers that he wanted the communique "to reflect the actual situation".

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Adm. Harry Harris told the U.S. -Indonesia Friendship Society in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on Monday that China's rejection of an worldwide tribunal's ruling in 2016 that supported the territorial claims of the Philippines "demonstrates to any observer what kind of country China is".

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the USS John S. McCain traveled close to Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals.

"With ASEAN itself divided and China's sway over individual ASEAN members growing", Glaser said, "this is an unsurprising even if disappointing development". The latest framework has not been made public, but a leaked document says the code is "not an instrument to settle territorial disputes or maritime delimitation issues". The next battle is over a proposed "code of conduct", which aims to stymie aggressive behavior in the disputed sea, including new construction and military fortifications.

"Both Beijing and Hanoi have undertaken dredging and reclamation work as recently as early 2017".

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