ASEAN, China Adopt Framework for Maritime Code of Conduct

SE Asian ministers endorse framework of S. China Sea code

ASEAN failed to issue its customary statement on Saturday because of what diplomats said was disagreement about whether to make oblique references to China's rapid expansion of its defence capabilities on artificial islands in disputed waters. 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.

"When the situation in the South China Sea is generally stable, and if there is no major disruption from outside parties as the precondition, then we will consider during the November leaders' meeting - we will jointly announce - the official start of the [code of conduct] conversation", Wang told reporters after meeting with his Southeast Asian counterparts, who were in Manila ahead of the ASEAN Regional Forum on August 7.

It was said that Vietnam had been urging Asean to take a stronger stand against Chinese expansion.

Manila rejected advice from the U.S., Japan and Australia on Wednesday to abide by the ruling of an global tribunal that invalidated Beijing's claims in the South China Sea.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment for this story.

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"Overall, Vietnam's contributions to the AMM 50 demonstrate the country's proactivity, high sense of responsibility and maturity in regional integration, thus enhancing our role and prestige in the ASEAN and in ties with it's partners", Deputy FM Nguyen Quoc Dung said.

He said only Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippine and Brunei had disputes with China over the South China Sea and they were looking for peaceful resolutions.

It said that after extensive discussions, concerns were voiced by some members about land reclamation "and activities in the area which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tension and may undermine peace, security and stability". The meeting was hosted by Manila and attended by 1,700 delegates. The rapprochement between President Rodrigo Duterte and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, defused a tense standoff between the Asian neighbors last year at the disputed Scarborough Shoal, where China allowed Filipinos back to fish in October as years of thorny relations began to brighten.

In a joint statement after their foreign ministers met on the sidelines of the same gathering on Sunday, the US, Japan and Australia delivered a noticeably sterner rebuke to Beijing.

Experts and officials have criticized President Barack Obama for potentially reinforcing China's claims by sticking to innocent passage, in which a warship effectively recognized a territorial sea by crossing it speedily without stopping.

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