ASEAN Rebukes China, Then Gives Away the Store

China's foreign minister Wang Yi

China's foreign minister Wang Yi

"Japan, Australia, and the US are our friends".

China expects greater development of the Asean community, which will contribute more to regional peace, stability and prosperity and better benefit the people of its member countries, Xi said.

Earlier this week the United States, Australia, and Japan collectively denounced China's continuing efforts to control the South China Sea and its increasingly vital shipping lanes.

According to Japanese government sources, in the EAS foreign ministers' meeting, Kono said regarding China's military buildup in the South China Sea, "We strongly oppose any unilateral acts to try to change the status quo based on military power".

The foreign ministers agreed to start operating a bilateral aerial and maritime communication mechanism as soon as possible in order to prevent any unintended clashes between the two countries in the East China Sea.

He said China, for instance, set aside its insistence on a "non-legally binding" code of conduct (COC) on maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

For decades, China has claimed ownership of almost the entire sea.

Tillerson made the remark on the sidelines of meetings involving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Manila, the Philippines.

China scored a diplomatic "slam dunk" on the South China Sea issue when Southeast Asian nations issued a diluted statement on the dispute and agreed to Beijing's terms on talks.

In a 46-page joint communiqué released Sunday, the 10-member bloc, noting the "improving cooperation between ASEAN and China", said it was encouraged by the conclusion and adoption of the COC framework on the South China Sea.

In a transcript of a statement by Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, which was distributed to media in Manila, Pyongyang called new United Nations sanctions "fabricated" and warned there would be "strong follow-up measures" and acts of justice. The ministers further urged ASEAN member states and China to ensure that the COC be finalized in a timely manner, and that it be legally binding, meaningful, effective, and consistent with worldwide law.

To prevent conflicts and maintain order in the South China Sea, it is indispensable to lay down legally binding worldwide rules.

An ASEAN declaration in 1992 called for a code of conduct for disputes involving the South China Sea, as did the 2002 joint declaration with China.

Tensions flared in recent years over China's island-building works in one of the most disputed regions, where US naval and aerial patrols have challenged Beijing's claims.

In a statement issued on the sidelines of Asia's biggest security forum in Manila, Australia's foreign Minister Julie Bishop and her two counterparts also called on China to abide by a UN-backed tribunal past year that rejected Beijing's claims to nearly all of the strategically important and resource-rich waterways.

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