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In Asia : China scores diplomatic coup in sea row

07 August 2017

Vietnam, the most determined critic of China on the issue, had insisted during two days of negotiations that ASEAN insist the code be legally binding, arguing otherwise it would be meaningless.

The ministers endorsed the framework on Saturday, a day before meeting with their Chinese counterpart, when they are expected to jointly adopt it.

All the afore-mentioned achievements testify to the fact that China and ASEAN have the wisdom and capability to properly manage the disputes, formulate a set of regional rules that we all recognize, and preserve peace and stability in the South China Sea, according to the Chinese foreign minister.

Third, with preparations basically ready and on the condition that there is no major outside interference and the South China Sea situation is generally stable, leaders of China and ASEAN member states will officially announce the start of the next step to negotiate on the text of the COC at the China-ASEAN Leaders' Summit in November.

While foreign ministers of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Manila to celebrate the 50 anniversary of its establishment the consensus principles on which the body was founded find themselves under significant stress.

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In fact, an exasperated diplomat based in the Asean secretariat in Jakarta told an worldwide news service then that it was like déjà vu how the heads of state and government were behaving in Vientiane-referring to their lack of unity and indecisiveness in handling the resulting tension from China's seizure of the Panatag or Scarborough Shoal.

"We wish Singapore well in these two roles", added Mr Wang.

China has in recent years also successfully lobbied other ASEAN nations, particularly Cambodia, to support its diplomatic manoeuvring in the dispute.

Wang however said there would be a precondition for the official start of the code of conduct consultations.

Among the topics of immediate concern are the South China Sea, North Korea and Muslim militants.

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"We need to get used to this kind of to-ing and fro-ing".

Also speaking to reporters, Mr Wang said the meeting went "very well". They urged the North to immediately and fully comply with its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions. It's not clear if the ministers will push for a legally binding code.

With regard to the different opinions being raised against China, which seemed bent on militarizing the South China Sea despite a ruling by the International Tribunal, Wang said China does not comment on which individual country or countries have raised the issue. Thanks to our considerate efforts, the current situation in the South China Sea is showing positive momentum.

"As long as we commit to dialogue and consultation and global law, including Unclos, we will be able to stabilize the situation and find a way out".

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In Asia : China scores diplomatic coup in sea row