Sea of problems: China and ASEAN

June 14, 2016
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South China Sea became a subject for the meeting of foreign ministers from China and the ten-member Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). They gather in Kunming, to share their viewpoints on the nerve-jangling issue of the South China Sea, where China continues to turn disputed features into man-made islands. 

A dozen nations of ASEAN involved in the issue regarding man-made islands in the South China Sea. Actually, it is a diplomatic dilemma for China and US. Washington has been building diplomatic pressure in the West and in Asia on China to abide by the Hague-based tribunal’s decision, which is expected soon. China, which maintains it won’t be bound by the ruling, has been pushing back by building support from nations mostly in Africa and the Mideast.

In fact, this case is more interesting because the US is not a party to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. That is the law, under which the tribunal has been constituted. Despite of this fact, US wants China to play by international rules. How will react the international community — that is the question.

Kunming meeting tries to find a dispute solution or, at least, some kind of consensus. But ASEAN countries are divided into the small groups. E.g., China claimed a consensus with Brunei, Cambodia and Laos. And Singapore, being looked at this China’s “co-ordination” efforts, is accusing Beijing of seeking to divide the organisation, which leads only to undermining the hallowed principle of its own (full) consensus.

China map and UN ConventionIn its turn, China says the Singapore shows little real interest in what has interested ASEAN for years. This issue is on the agenda of Kunming meeting, again, say ASEAN countries diplomats.

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