The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China adopted a code of conduct "framework" that will be the basis for negotiations over disputed territories in the South China Sea during a meeting of foreign ministers in Manila on Aug. 6. ASEAN leaders and China agreed to meet later this month to discuss the "modalities" for the negotiations of the actual code of conduct with the approved framework as the basis for the talks, said Philippine foreign affairs spokesman Robespierre Bolivar. Bolivar said leaders of the regional alliance and China will continue to cooperate "on such practical maritime cooperation efforts, including management and prevention of conflicts among parties through confidence-building measures, as well as to prevent miscalculations on the ground." ASEAN, a regional grouping that promotes economic, political, and security cooperation among Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. A statement reflecting the adoption of the code of conduct is expected to be issued at the end of the Manila meeting on Aug. 8. China proposed the "three-step initiative" toward a code of conduct in the disputed waters during the meeting on Aug. 6.
"When the situation in the South China Sea is generally stable and if there is no major disruption from outside parties, as a precondition, then we will consider during the November (ASEAN) leaders' meeting, we will jointly announce the official start of the [code of conduct] consultations," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told journalists covering the meeting. The Chinese official said all parties will discuss the principle and plan for the next stage consultation of the code of conduct later in the month. "China and ASEAN have the ability and wisdom to work together to maintain regional peace and stability, and we will work out regional rules that we mutually agreed upon so as to open up a bright future for our future relations," said Yi. He expressed confidence that relations between ASEAN and China "will move from a period of rapid growth to a period of maturity ... to a comprehensive strategic partnership." Call for peace in Korean Peninsula
The ASEAN foreign ministers has also issued a statement supporting initiatives to improve peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula, saying that the organization is "ready to play a constructive role in contributing to peace and stability" in the region. The Southeast Asian leaders expressed "grave concern" over escalating tensions in the peninsula as North Korea continued to carry out missile tests, with the most recent testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles on July 4. "These developments seriously threaten peace, security and stability in the region and the world," read the ASEAN statement. "In this regard, we strongly urge the [North Korea] to immediately comply fully with its obligations under all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions." The ASEAN foreign ministers reiterated their call for complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula "in a peaceful manner" and for the "exercise of self-restraint." Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said the meeting in Manila this week is a "golden opportunity" for ASEAN member states to take on the role of being "partners for change." "Let us seize this opportunity to transform shared aspirations and values instituted by our founding fathers, no less than their dreams and visions into concrete actions and tangible outcomes that will propel our community to a brighter future our people truly deserve," said Cayetano. With more than 600 million people, the ten Southeast Asian countries belonging to ASEAN has a combined growth domestic product of US$2.4 trillion and has been dubbed as the third fastest growing economy next to China and India if it were a single economy.
Support UCA News...
As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.
That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.
Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.
UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.
We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.
Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...