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Philippines Urges ASEAN to Stop China in S. China Sea

Philippines Urges ASEAN to Stop China in S. China SeaPhilippines Urges ASEAN to Stop China in S. China Sea

The Philippines on Sunday urged its fellow Southeast Asian countries to take immediate steps to halt land reclamation by China in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, warning that failure to do so will see Beijing take "de facto control" of the area.

Malaysia's foreign minister, however, said that the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations will avoid confrontation with China and continue negotiations with Beijing on a binding code of conduct that would govern behavior in the area, AP said in a report.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario told a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers that if China's construction of artificial islands on reefs claimed by other countries is allowed to be completed, Beijing will impose its claim over more than 85 percent of the sea.

Rosario urged the grouping to "stand up" to China by urging it to halt its reclamation work, which threatened to militarize the region, infringe on rights of other states and damage the marine environment.

He warned that China, which has been dragging its foot on ASEAN's push for a code of conduct, will aim to complete its reclamation activities before it agrees to conclude the code. If this happens, he said the code will legitimize China's reclamation.

"The threats posed by these massive reclamations are real and cannot be ignored or denied," he said. "ASEAN should assert its leadership, centrality and solidarity. ASEAN must show the world that it has the resolve to act in the common interest."

China, Taiwan and ASEAN members Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei have overlapping claims in the South China Sea, which includes busy sea lanes and rich fishing grounds, and is believed to have large undersea deposits of oil and natural gas.

ASEAN has maintained a cautious stand in the dispute to avoid angering China, a key trading partner.

Financialtribune.com