News / Asia

China Agrees to Discuss 'Code of Conduct' Rules

An aerial photo shows Chinese marine surveillance ships Haijian No. 49 (front) and Haijian No.50 cruising in the East China Sea, as the islands known as Senkaku isles in Japan and Diaoyu islands, April 23, 2013.
An aerial photo shows Chinese marine surveillance ships Haijian No. 49 (front) and Haijian No.50 cruising in the East China Sea, as the islands known as Senkaku isles in Japan and Diaoyu islands, April 23, 2013.
Simone Orendain
This week the Association of Southeast Asian Nations appeared to make progress on addressing territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Following meetings in Brunei, the group announced that China had agreed to discuss a set of rules known as the “code of conduct” to avoid conflict in the disputed waters.

Last year's ASEAN forum ended without a consensus because of squabbles over the South China Sea. The group concluded its meetings without a joint statement for the first time in its history.

This year, the joint communiqué emphasizes adhering to an 11-year-old non-binding agreement among China and the 10-member states to peacefully handle competing claims in the South China Sea. It also calls for “formal consultations” on a code of conduct in September in Beijing. The talks are expected to take place among lower level officials and focus on steps to avoid conflict. They are not expected to discuss the territorial disputes.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Spokesman Raul Hernandez says the country welcomes this development.

“And that is exactly what we have been pushing for, for a long time now, that we should be able to conclude a code of conduct with China in order to govern the activities in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.

Hernandez uses Manila’s local name for the South China Sea.

Relations between the Philippines and China chilled significantly after a two-month standoff last year between their ships at Scarborough Shoal, which the Philippines says is well within its 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone, as designated by international law. Then this May, Chinese civilian ships and a frigate were seen in the vicinity of Second Thomas Shoal, which the Philippines claims.

China, Taiwan and Vietnam claim practically the entire sea, while the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei have partial claims. The sea is believed to be rich in oil and natural gas, with abundant fishing and well-traveled sea lanes.

Of the claimants, the Philippines has been the most vocal about alleged Chinese encroachment into its waters. This week Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario denounced what he called China’s “increasing militarization” of the sea. The comment came after Chinese state media warned of a “counterstrike” against the Philippines if it continues to provoke Beijing.

Security analyst Carl Thayer of the Australia Defense Force Academy says this year’s ASEAN gathering is more cohesive because foreign ministers from countries without any sovereign stake in the sea worked hard to build unity after last year’s meeting.

“Overwhelmingly Indonesia has taken a role." he said. "Thailand has picked up the ball as country coordinator and tried to move it. And China is trying to not be isolated and not have the issue internationalized to an even greater extent. And there’s a new leadership change in China and it’s responding to these changes.”

Thayer says China’s agreement to consultations on a more binding code is a step in the right direction.  But he says a lot will depend on how firmly it will commit to the terms of the code.

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Comment Sorting
by: Samurai from: Japan
July 07, 2013 12:10 AM
Even today, Chinese ships are invading Japanese inherent waters. Chinese, thanks for your time-and-money-wasting jobs. We Japanese will never allow Chinese to invade our territories. Let's Chinese remember that Japanese navy completely beat out Chinese navy in Sino-Japan (Yellow-sea) battle.

by: Anonymous
July 06, 2013 2:18 PM
china and russia are the troublemaker in asian .them has been to impact to asian of others countries policy . the china of communist government always an liar.
the example is hongkong

by: defense china
July 06, 2013 2:11 PM
it's not discrimination of mainland of china.. but china and russia has been layout troops in asia pacific.. so USA must rebuild and deployment asian of troops with NATO for defense.( with allies of asian could sharing troops bases cost for save cost)
please rebuild troops in taiwan and philipine. and enhance japan and south korea of armament in USA bases for ensure benefit of USA during asian

by: i hate china from: taiwan
July 06, 2013 1:49 PM
compose an island common defense allies agreement .to defense russia and china communist. now the russia and china has been impact asian of safely in other democracy countries. however the agreement need USA joint all asian of allies and commucation and connect independent taiwan、 south korea with japan and philipine for troops base. continue and rebuild troops in taiwan and philipine bases about USA troops

by: Mhey from: Cordillera
July 06, 2013 4:58 AM
West Philippine sea belongs to Philippines,period!China get out from our territory.
In Response

by: jonathan huang from: canada
July 07, 2013 12:29 PM
the west phili sea is only about 10 miles wide. LOL

by: Demchigdonrov from: Mongolia
July 05, 2013 2:47 AM
I'm afraid that Chinese once agree with the code of conduct but not observe it. The rest of the world should not rely on Chinese who never respect international laws, other countries' sovereignty, and even ethics and morals.
In Response

by: Liu Yang from: China
July 05, 2013 9:21 PM
Yeah, that's why China built a Wall to keep the Monglian out, for fearing that they loot our city, rape our women, steal our land.
To the Amricans, you're the last one one earth to point fingers at China at any issue regarding the South China Sea. All the disputes involved were rootes of the US strategy of contain the communism countries after the Second World War
In Response

by: Ian from: USA
July 05, 2013 1:31 PM
You are absolutely right . It is in their "Art of war" book . Steal , rob , cheat , & misleading are Chinese's trick of the trade .
Just read the comment from the Chinese comrade "anonymous" below saying "South China sea belongs to China" Anyone could see clearly the vision of the so called China 's peaceful rise

by: Anonymous
July 05, 2013 2:16 AM
South China See belongs to China.

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