ASEAN Keen to Resolve South China Sea Dispute

ASEAN Keen to Resolve South China Sea DisputeASEAN Keen to Resolve South China Sea Dispute

The Association of South-East Asian Nations is set to continue its dialogue with Beijing through the existing formats with a view to helping resolve the South China Sea dispute.

While ASEAN as an organization does not take sides in the territorial claims in South China Sea, there are two instruments that help it promote security and stability in the Sea—the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).

“ASEAN welcomes China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s ‘four-point’ proposal made at that meeting to fast-track the COC consultations, including developing a framework for the COC by mid-2017, and will continue to actively engage China toward an amicable solution of the issue of the South China Sea,” ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh told Sputnik.

It is also critical that ASEAN and China “continue to pursue full and effective implementation of the DOC in its entirety”, he added.

According to the secretary-general, this dispute is a testament to ASEAN unity, solidarity and credibility as an organization. It shoulders collective responsibility for peace and stability, freedom of navigation and overflight in the region, and therefore supports peaceful resolution of disputes.

The Spratly Islands, also known as Nansha Islands, in the South China Sea are contested by China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. In July, an international tribunal in The Hague rejected Beijing’s claims on the islands and rebuked its activity in South China Sea, including the construction of artificial land.

The US Navy continues patrols in the area despite Chinese protests.

“Ensuring the safety of our peoples will always be a key [element] to ASEAN. ASEAN keeps its citizens safe from both traditional and non-traditional security threats, such as climate change, pandemics, natural disasters and transnational crimes in its various forms,” Le Luong Minh said.

The ASEAN member states continue to strive toward an integrated market by focusing on trade facilitation measures and building closer intra-regional cooperation in new spheres, such as e-commerce, sustainable economic development and science, Minh added.

In October, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, speaking at the Xiangshan Security Forum in Beijing, noted that the central role in building regional security in the region should belong to ASEAN.

Another organization that aims to ensure regional stability and fight against all forms of terrorism in East Asia is Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Joining efforts, the two organizations may sign an updated memorandum of cooperation at the next SCO Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, in 2017, according to SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov.

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