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Chinese Scholars Warn Against Rush on COC in South China Sea

With the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) vowing to speak with one voice on negotiating a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, Beijing finds its position of working slowly on the matter challenged by the regional group.
China, which has maritime territorial disputes with several ASEAN nations, including Vietnam and the Philippines, has said it is in "no rush" to negotiate a Code of Conduct. This puts it at odds with the Southeast Asian group, which has indicated it wants an early conclusion to the talks.
As ASEAN and China prepare for a foreign ministerial meeting in Beijing this month, the Chinese position is being portrayed in many media stories as a delaying strategy.
Su Xiaohui, deputy director of the department of international strategy at the China Institute of International Studies, explained China's position on this issue during an interview with Voice of America.

"The Chinese side has found out that it has a certain different understanding on the South China Sea COC with other related parties, including ASEAN countries. First, we want the South China Sea COC to provide a relatively good atmosphere to discuss and negotiate future territorial disputes. This is China's basic position. Other parties, however, consider South China Sea COC as an actual method to solve the South China Sea dispute. This is our difference in thinking. We believe that after an agreement is reached on conduct, all parties concerned will follow rules more closely, thus creating a good regional state of affairs, so as to solve the territorial disputes through bilateral talks."


China's rise and expansion of its naval strength has worried neighboring countries. The U.S. rebalance to Asia is seen by many as a balancing force for countries with territorial disputes with China.
Luo Yuan, a popular hawkish military scholar, criticizes the U.S. as being biased and calls the Philippines a "trouble maker."

"The Philippines is playing the role of a trouble maker on the South China Sea. The Philippines attempts to use military means to solve the South China Sea problem. It is simply impossible. The Philippines won't be able to change its balance of power with China no matter how much more weaponry it purchases. We hope the Philippines will walk with China towards the same direction and work to solve the disputes peacefully through negotiations."


The U.S. has said it is neutral in the matter of the maritime territorial disputes and is urging ASEAN and China to settle the issue through peaceful, multilateral negotiations.
But China has said it will only discuss the territorial disputes in bilateral talks.
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Comments
     
by: Gerson Boston from: Philippines
August 20, 2013 5:11 AM
I beg to disagree on the context of this argument. There is a need to decide on the COC to set a guidelines on the conduct of all parties as far as freedom of navigation and territorial disputes are concern. If China decides a status quo then China has to walk the talk. They cannot forced everyone to agree and yet China doesn't seem interested to honor other parties claims. This is bullying tactic. Luo Yuan needs to study more if he is indeed a scholar. War is inevitable if China wants to project that he is powerful and just tramp on weak countries. China will have its time if he continues to do so with in his militaristic ambition.

In Response

by: jack from: malaysia
August 23, 2013 6:59 AM
It seems to me the only reasonable "settlement"for the Philippines is for China to relinquish its' claim and accept Philippines' sovereignthy.Joint economic development would therefore have to settle the sovereignthy issue first.Since both China and Philippines will not back off from their' sovereignthy claims, there would never be a Malaysia-Thailand, China-Malaysia and'China- Brunei approach of shelving sovereignthy issues to focus on economic development of the resources. For the weaker a nation, there is only outcome--she is going to lose out on the economic benefits afforded by joint development with the stronger party.

In Response

by: John from: California
August 20, 2013 7:16 PM
I do not find China's position totally unreasonable. COC sets the guidelines for the CONDUCT of claimers so as to avoid conflict and misunderstanding. This is a first step. Trying to set guideline for RESOLVING terrritorial disputes will make the negotiation of COC unduely complicated and long, which is not good for stability in the meantime.

Philippines, however, seems eagerly wanting to settle the issue immediately, and is pursuing several inconsistent and incoherent actions - submitting claim through tribunal, pressuring ASEAN for a group stand for COC and dispute stand, building up military... None of these, in my opinion, is going to solve problem nor even change China's position a single bit. Not surprisingly, she is viewed as "trouble maker" by China.

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