Sunday, March 3, 2024

ASEAN foreign ministers express concern over tensions in the South China Sea

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MANILA (Reuters) – Foreign ministers from Southeast Asia’s regional bloc ASEAN expressed concern on Saturday over rising tensions in the South China Sea, saying it could threaten peace in the region and threatening peace between the parties. He called for dialogue.

“We are closely following with concern recent developments in the South China Sea that may undermine regional peace, security and stability,” China’s top diplomat said in a statement.

The statement comes as China and the Philippines have traded accusations over a series of maritime disasters in recent months, with Manila calling for a change in approach as diplomatic efforts are heading in the “bad direction.” He said there is.

China called the accusations “completely false and exaggerated” and said it would not turn a blind eye to the Philippines’ repeated “provocations and harassment.”

ASEAN foreign ministers also reaffirmed the need to “restraint from carrying out activities that would complicate or intensify the conflict.”

“We reiterate the importance of peaceful dialogue that contributes constructively to promoting regional stability and cooperation in the maritime field.”

ASEAN and China have been working on a code of conduct in the South China Sea in a plan dating back to 2002. However, progress has been slow despite promises from all parties to move forward and speed up the process.

Talks on the components of the norm have not yet begun amid concerns about China’s willingness to abide by a set of binding rules consistent with international law.

China claims much of the South China Sea through the Nine-Dash Line, which circles 1,500 kilometers (900 miles) south of the mainland, encroaching on the exclusive economic zones of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. .

China on Friday named former navy chief Dongjun as its new defense minister. He previously served as deputy commander of the command operating in the South China Sea.

(Reporting by Mikhail Flores; Editing by Margherita Choi)

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