ASEAN Leaders To Express Concern Over South China Sea Activities

Miranda GreerMay 08, 2017

Under Article 20 (4) of the Charter, the ASEAN Summit may on such occasions meet and take action.

Several other ASEAN members also claim parts of the South China Sea in a dispute that some fear could spark an armed conflict in economically bustling Asia.

"I think bigger than the so-called problem of the South China Sea is the North Korea threat-and also the threat of global terrorism", he said.

But Duterte spoke again of the seeming futility of trying to "force" the arbitral ruling on China, a growing military power, and definitely a giant compared to the Philippines' military.

The president has not pushed a United Nations finding past year that the Philippines held exclusive sovereignty over its claimed areas of the waters.

Duterte, who has put the ruling on the back burner and said he will revisit it later in his term, said it was a waste of time for ASEAN to discuss that award now, and it was not relevant. "Indonesia will get a chance to share its perspectives as we face an increasingly fluid world and uncertain geo-political and geo-economic situations", Jose said during a press briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Chairing the two-day Manila summit, Mr Duterte is expected to push for a speeding up of negotiations on a Code of Conduct, which rival claimants have failed to agree on for many years. And during a high-profile visit to Beijing last October, Duterte-who has dubiously claimed to have Chinese ancestry-announced his "separation from the United States" while declaring his intention to join Beijing's "ideological flow", forming an alliance with China and Russian Federation "against the world".

Thanks to the Philippines, China's hold on contested waters is sealed, despite its defeat before the United Nations court.

Philippine officials say they are adopting a more nuanced hedging strategy, whereby they bid to manage relations with China through a fluid mix of deterrence and engagement.

With Asean restoring a sense of public unity, "that strengthens the future" for the bloc, according to former Philippine foreign secretary Delia D. Albert. Duterte has been accused by critics of taking a defeatist position on China and on defending Philippine sovereignty. It's not even a territorial thing.

"If we can just blurt anything-say a very controversial issue-at anytime, then that means. we are not conducting a strategic approach to diplomacy", he added.

Duterte said the Philippines will instead coax ASEAN and China to come up together with a legally binding code of conduct to handle the dispute, and to produce a framework for this over the next few months. "So, because of our friendship with China, and because we value your friendship, I will not go there to raise the Philippine flag".

The summit is scheduled to focus discussions on measures to effectively deploy the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, master plans to implement the vision on the three pillars of politics-security, economy and socio-culture; the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025; and the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plan III.

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