China leaning on Singapore to keep ASEAN calm over South China Sea

Working hand in hand  Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman Myanmar Minister of State of Foreign Affairs U Kyaw Tin Thailand Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh Philippine Foreign Sec

Working hand in hand Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman Myanmar Minister of State of Foreign Affairs U Kyaw Tin Thailand Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh Philippine Foreign Sec

"The ministers further urged ASEAN member states and China to ensure that the code of conduct be finalized in a timely manner, and that it be legally binding, meaningful, effective, and consistent with global law", according to a joint statement on August 6 by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. "My understanding is that we welcome them here, welcome to dialogue but it is in the honest hope that they will only listen", he added.

According to a Japanese government official, Wang also told Kono that China opposes each country imposing unilateral sanctions on Pyongyang.

In Manila on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the grand celebration of Asean's 50th anniversary along with his counterparts from Asean and other nations.

The previous administration brought the case to the arbitral tribunal in The Hague, which ruled in favor of the Philippines on July 12 a year ago.

"We need resilient and clear processes to manage conflict and the maintenance of the norms that apply to all states, large and small", she said.

To give substance to their words, they should join hands with China and ASEAN to safeguard and build on the hard-won positive momentum so that the South China Sea is a seaway for peace, friendship and cooperation. The administration is also mulling joint development activities with China in the area.

Tensions flared in recent years over China's island-building works in one of the most disputed regions, where USA naval and aerial patrols have challenged Beijing's claims.

He also maintained that their policy was not weaker than that of the previous administration, and they were "gaining ground" in pursuing national interests by approaching the eastern giant "in a friendly manner [and] building trust with China". "Surely when we move into the COC, it has got to have some additional or significant legal effect".

U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson, left, poses with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during the former's courtesy call at Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, Monday, Aug. 7, 2017.

The broad framework, which leaves wide scope for disagreement, has critics raising doubts about how effective the COC will be.

"We sent a message to them that all ASEAN countries are not happy with the actions of North Korea that still continue to violate the United Nations resolution", he told reporters, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. "We will decide what is good for us, what strategy is good for us, because we are a sovereign nation", he added.

In a strong joint statement with Australia and Japan this weekend, the US urged ASEAN to adopt a legally binding code of conduct to constrain Beijing's maritime activity, while denouncing China's land reclamation and militarization in no uncertain terms.

Beijing is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council and the chair of stalled six-party talks involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

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