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China set for easy ride from ASEAN on disputed South China Sea

09 August 2017
China set for easy ride from ASEAN on disputed South China Sea

In the statement, the ministers urged Pyongyang to immediately and fully comply with its obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions.

When the situation in the South China Sea becomes "generally stable and if there no major disruption from outside parties", both parties can then start their consultations in time for the ASEAN Leaders' Summit in November, the Chinese foreign minister said.

Pursuant to the full and effective implementation of the DOC in its entirety, and pending the early adoption of an effective COC, the ASEAN foreign ministers stressed the importance of undertaking confidence building and preventive measures to enhance, among others, trust and confidence among concerned parties.

North Korea's missile testing has become a bone of contention between ASEAN and the administration of US President Donald Trump, which has been asking ASEAN members to downgrade their ties with Pyongyang. It also prohibits countries from increasing the current numbers of North Korean laborers working overseas, bans new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures.

Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) acting Spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar said the framework COC is expected to be adopted at the ASEAN China Ministerial Meeting slated here on August 6.

An unwieldy bloc of democracies, monarchies and authoritarian regimes, ASEAN decides by consensus, meaning just one member state can shoot down any proposal. The sanctions could further choke North Korea's struggling economy by slashing its $3 billion annual export revenue by a third.

In July, South Korea's Defense Ministry proposed talks between representatives of the two countries' militaries at Tongil-gak on the North Korean side of Panmunjom, the so-called truce village in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the two rivals.

According to the foreign ministers, the framework will "facilitate the work for the conclusion of an effective COC on a mutually-agreed timeline".

Founded in 1967, ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

A final copy of the framework seen by The Associated Press also did not mention whether the code should be legally binding, which most ASEAN states demand but China opposes, or the extent of disputed areas to be covered by such a code.

The framework does not outline as an initial objective the need to make the code legally binding and enforceable, or have a dispute resolution mechanism.

He added: "It must be able not only to prevent but also to manage incidents of the kind that have taken place so far".

Wang Yi said the climate in 2017 between states that have claims to the sea region had improved and was more conducive to peace.

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has omitted references to China's most controversial activities in its joint communique, a draft reviewed by Reuters shows.

A few months before that ruling, 12 nations in the Pacific region concluded more than seven years of negotiations by signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a trade agreement that bound much of Southeast Asia together with the United States and Japan in an economic partnership meant to fight China's growing economic hegemony in the region.