South China Sea Code Of Conduct Draft Approved

Joanna Estrada
May 20, 2017

Yoshihide Suga, Japan's senior government spokesman, said Japan had lodged a "strong protest", accusing China of "unilaterally escalating" tensions.

Mr Roberts said within ASEAN, "the views of the stabiliser countries - Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia - are unfortunately being undermined by other views".

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhemin, in comments carried on state television, said the framework was comprehensive and took into account the concerns of all sides.

According to a report by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), China has built a hangar and a radar on a man-made island in the Spratly Islands.

While the draft has not been released, diplomatic sources said it includes provisions on "incident management" and "monitoring and cooperation mechanisms".

It took around two decades of research and exploration for China to successfully mine flammable or combustible ice offshore for the first time. It was unclear if that was mentioned in the framework draft, which has not been made public.

However, Liu said the agreement laid a "solid foundation" for further negotiations.

The milestone achievement was reached during the 14th Senior Officials' Meeting on the Implementation of the DOC held Thursday at the New World Hotel in this bustling mountain town of Guizhou province.

The Philippines welcomed the finalization of the draft of the framework.

The undersea oil and gas riches in the South China Sea had already raised the stakes in the geopolitical fight in the region.

Japan on Thursday lodged a protest with China after four Chinese coastguard vessels entered what Tokyo considers its territorial waters near disputed East China Sea islets and a drone-like object flew near one ship, the Japanese government said.

In remarks that could infuriate China, Duterte hit back at domestic critics who said he has gone soft on Beijing by refusing to push it to comply with an award previous year by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which ruled largely in favour of the Philippines.

On April 30, a statement at the conclusion of the 30th ASEAN Summit in Manila pointedly dropped references to "land reclamation and militarization" in the South China Sea that had previously been included.

"This is a new form of activity by China", he added.

Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago L. Sta.

"It does not mean the differences have disappeared".

"That is why the president kept asking the United States ambassador, 'are you with us or not?' He did not get a clear answer", he told CNN in an interview.

Nearly a third of the world's trade, worth $5 trillion annually, passes through the South China Sea, which Beijing claims in its entirety and the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan do in part.

The South China Sea is one of the world's busiest commercial waterways with more than Dollars 5 trillion worth of world trade shipped through it every year.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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