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Home Weekly Bulletin Weekly Bulletin 31/7-6/8

Weekly Bulletin 31/7-6/8

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China responds to Britain’s intent to conduct FONOP; Vietnam objects to China’s opening of cinema on Phu Lam island; ASEAN, China approve framework for code of conduct in S. China Sea…

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Activities of Related Parties

China

China responds to Britain’s intent to conduct FONOP

Regarding question about UK’s plan to send military vessels to the South China Sea, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang on July 28 said: “We would like to tell those outside the region that China and ASEAN countries are working to further stabilize the situation in the South China Sea, and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the region. It is hoped that countries without will not make waves and stir up troubles.” On China-ASEAN relations, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang on August 3 said: “The China-ASEAN relations have become the most dynamic and substantive pair of relations among ASEAN's relations with its dialogue partners. China is willing to join hands with ASEAN countries to uphold the stability of the South China Sea which has not come by easily, steadily advance the consultation of the COC, promote maritime cooperation and jointly guide the East Asian regional cooperation so as to inject positive energy into regional integration and economic globalization.”

China sets conditions for start of talks on sea feud code

Speaking to reporters in Manila on August 6, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that talks for Code of Conduct (COC) may start this year if “outside parties” don’t cause a major disruption. “If there is no major disruption from outside parties, with that as the precondition, then we will consider during the November leaders’ meeting, we will jointly announce the official start of the code of conduct consultation,” Wang said. The situation in the South China Sea should also be “generally stable,” he added.

Vietnam

Vietnam objects to China’s opening of cinema on Phu Lam island

On August 1, Vietnamese Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang stated: “China’s construction and opening of a cinema on Phu Lam island in Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago violate Vietnam’s sovereignty over the archipelago. China’s deeds violate international law and cannot change Vietnam’s sovereignty over the archipelagos, she affirmed.” She also said that Vietnam’s oil exploration in the South China Sea is a normal practice under a deal with a Spanish partner.   "All relevant petroleum activities by Vietnam take place in waters entirely under the sovereignty and jurisdiction of Vietnam."

The Philippines

Philippine foreign minister allays concerns over South China Sea

Regarding the report published by Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), part of Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), in which revealing China’s new military facilities on islands in the South China Sea, Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that this report is not giving the entire picture of the current situation in the South China Sea. “f the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) gave the whole picture of what is happening in the disputed areas in the South China Sea, all claimant countries would be protesting against one another,” he said. “CSIS is a very good organization – their transparency program,” he said, “but they are an American think tank, they are for American interests, not necessarily Filipino interest. Sometimes they go into Filipino interests; sometimes not.”

The U.S.

The U.S. calls for a halt on South China Sea militarization

Susan Thornton, U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs on August 6 stressed that countries in the region should suspend work on improving, expanding or militarizing outposts so that a diplomatic resolution for disputes over the South China Sea can move forward. She added the U.S. will continue referring to the ruling and will keep pressing for freedom of navigation and for respect for rules and laws.

Regional Snapshots

ASEAN, China approve framework for code of conduct in S. China Sea

In a press briefing, Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs acting Spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar said foreign ministers of 10-member regional bloc and China adopted the COC framework at the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings held here. Bolivar said they expect a paragraph in AMM Chairman Statement reflecting the adoption of the COC framework. The statement will be issued at the end of AMM on August 8. He noted that ASEAN and China also agreed that a meeting will be convened at the end of August to discuss the modalities for the negotiations of the actual COC with the approved framework as the basis for the talks.

ASEAN foreign ministers emphasised the importance of non-militarisation

The Joint Communiqué of the 50th ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting stated: “We discussed extensively the matters relating to the South China Sea and took note of the concerns expressed by some Ministers on the land reclamations and activities in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region. We reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation in and over - flight above the South China Sea. We warmly welcomed the improving cooperation between ASEAN and China and are encouraged by the conclusion and adoption of the framework of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, which will facilitate the work for the conclusion of an effective COC on a mutually-agreed timeline.

Indonesia and Thailand charting clear maritime boundaries

Indonesia and Thailand are embarking on what could be a long and tedious negotiation process to determine the border of the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) between the two countries in the Andaman Sea. But even before formal talks begin, both countries have to tune into the right mood for a friendly and fruitful negotiation in order to reach a satisfactory result.  Negotiations with Thailand are still at a very preliminary stage, with informal exchanges of preliminary views following a meeting in late 2016, according to Bebeb Djunjunan, Indonesian director for political, security and territorial treaties with the Foreign Ministry. "We are still getting to know each other's positions and trying to understand the principal guidelines for negotiations before we formally move on to the technical phase of negotiating the EEZ boundaries," Mr Bebeb told Asia Focus.

 


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