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China sincere on sea code of conduct
Publication Date : 06-08-2013
Beijing revealed to Southeast Asian countries its attitude toward the proposed Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, as the foreign minister said on Monday that countries should first "eliminate disturbances" before reaching an accord.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who is visiting Vietnam, said that China and member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have discussed the COC several times, but the process has failed due to interference from certain parties.
China and Asean countries have agreed to work on the COC within the framework of the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), Wang said. He urged all parties to create the necessary conditions for signing the COC.
Chen Qinghong, a researcher on Philippine studies with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said China is not refusing to push for the process of signing the COC. Beijing has always shown its sincerity on the COC issue, he said.
But countries like the Philippines have violated the spirit of the DOC, which is the basis of the envisioned COC, he said.
"Those countries are eager to sign the COC because they expect the accord to limit Beijing and strengthen their position when bargaining with China on territorial disputes," he added.
Xu Liping, a researcher on Southeast Asian studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said some regional countries expect that the COC will restrict China's movements on the South China Sea.
Meanwhile, powers outside the region are also interfering in the COC process and making the issue more complicated under the guise of freedom of navigation, he said.
Wang suggested that an incremental approach to the COC be taken before settling on a final accord.
The DOC, which stipulates the formulation of the COC, should not be replaced by the COC, the foreign minister said, stressing that what is important now is the implementation of the DOC, particularly its provisions for maritime cooperation.
Philippine studies researcher Chen said the original goal of the COC is to minimise the risks of tension from disputes in the South China Sea, and it should not become a tool to serve any country's self-interest.
Wang said that during the implementation of the DOC, China and Asean members could reach a roadmap for the COC and move forward one step at a time, adding that China believes there should be no rush to make a final deal.
Certain countries are hoping a COC can be agreed overnight, Wang said, because those countries have unrealistic expectations. The COC concerns the interests of various parties, and its formulation demands a great deal of coordination, he said.
Chen said a lack of mutual trust is why those countries are hoping for a quick agreement on the COC.
"Countries should focus on how to remove that distrust through cooperation," he said.
Mo Jingxi and Xinhua contributed to the story.