China reports progress on South China Sea code of conduct

In the recent months, tension over the SCS abated after new Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte scaled down Manila's emphasis on its SCS claims even after it won an global tribunal award past year.

China and ASEAN members yesterday approved the framework of the SCS Code of Conduct (COC), a crucial step towards peacefully resolving territorial disputes in the area.

China and ASEAN countries on Thursday approved a draft framework of the South China Sea Code of Conduct, marking a milestone in peacefully resolving the South China Sea issue.

ISI interpreted this move as the Asian giant is "apparently beginning to build a no-fly zone in the South China Sea", Rappler quoted Kyodo News.

The island is part of the small Natuna archipelago, remote Indonesian islands in the South China Sea, home to rich fishing grounds and abundant oil reserves. Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea, despite partial counter-claims from Taiwan and several ASEAN members including the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

Liu did not reveal any details of the document, saying both the ten ASEAN member states and China agreed to treat it as an internal file.

These groups are also involved in crafting the framework for the code of conduct in resolution to the South China Sea maritime dispute.

"I think the negotiations will still go on for years".

On the same day, China and the Philippines held their first session in a two-way consultation process on "the importance of appropriately handling concerns, incidents and disputes involving the South China Sea", the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"We touched on several sensitive issues but we didn't dwell, we don't impose on the Chinese", Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. They also agreed to work through their differences under the framework of regional regulations.

Carpio wrote, "As a nation that under its Constitution has renounced war as an instrument of national policy, the Philippines' recourse is to bring China's threat of war to another UNCLOS arbitral tribunal, to secure an order directing China to comply with the ruling of the UNCLOS arbitral tribunal that declared the Reed Bank part of Philippine EEZ".

China and ASEAN committed to drafting the code 15 years ago, and while it should, in theory, tame how they behave in the South China Sea, it remains an open question whether Beijing will be willing to slow construction of artificial islands and pursuit of effective control over disputed territory. More than $5 trillion of world trade is shipped through the South China Sea every year.

In a landmark ruling last July, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, based in The Hague, delivered a sweeping rebuke of China's behavior in the South China Sea, including the creation of islands that could be used for military purposes, and found that its claim of sovereignty over the waters had no legal basis.

  • Leroy Wright