China, ASEAN Adopt Guidelines to Implement Code of Conduct in South China Sea
© Photo : Twitter screenshotASEAN summit Jakarta 2023
© Photo : Twitter screenshot
Negotiations for a Code of Conduct aimed at reducing tensions in the South China Sea have been ongoing since 2002.
The ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China have adopted “guidelines” to expedite talks on the Code of Conduct (CoC) in the South China Sea, an Indonesian Foreign Ministry statement said on Thursday.
The guidelines were adopted at an ASEAN post-ministerial conference (PMC) attended by ten southeast Asian foreign ministers and China’s top diplomat Wang Yi, the director of Foreign Affairs of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
“This year, the relationship between the two sides made a long history, namely the understanding of guidelines to strengthen effective and substantive CoC negotiators, the understanding of joint development on a single COC draft, and the implementation of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) 20-year agreement on cooperation and cooperation,” an Indonesian foreign ministry statement said.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told the meeting that the “achievement” of arriving at a consensus on guidelines should provide “positive momentum” to strengthen the partnership between Beijing and its southeast Asian neighbours. Indonesia is the current chair of ASEAN.
Marsudi also sought Beijing’s support in the “concrete implementation” of the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP), a policy document premised on the principle of ‘ASEAN-centrality’ in the Asia-Pacific region.
She described China as an “important partner” for ASEAN in maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in Indo-Pacific. She further noted that Beijing was ASEAN’s biggest trading partner.
"Our partnership is increasingly important in the midst of increasing challenges," Marsudi stated.
South China Sea Dispute
Beijing claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, claiming it has a “historical” claim to the maritime area falling under the “nine-dash line”.
It has conflicting territorial claims with four ASEAN states in the region, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.
China has rejected a 2016 ruling by a tribunal set-up under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The case at the UNCLOS tribunal was moved by Philippines in 2013.
Beijing has also been critical of interference by US and other western powers in the South China Sea dispute, amid Washington-backed controversial Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) in the regional waters.