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Asean senior officials begin meeting ahead of 30th Leaders' Summit

Apr 30, 2017, 01:17
Asean senior officials begin meeting ahead of 30th Leaders' Summit

In addition, do we really want to use the ongoing leaders' summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Manila as our soapbox from which to demand that China back away from its expanding claims in the disputed sea?

Manila has reversed its stance on the South China Sea, from advocating a unified front and challenging Beijing's unilateralism, to putting disputes aside to create warm ties.

In 2016, when an worldwide court ruled in favour of the Philippines against China's reclamation in the South China Sea, in a case brought by then-President Benigno Aquino, several Asean meetings were marked by unusual signs of public discord among members on how the bloc should respond.

But it did not mention the ruling by an worldwide arbitration tribunal that China has no legal or historic basis to claim nearly the entire South China Sea, a key shipping lane believed to be rich in mineral and marine resources.

The summits have spotlighted the escalating conflicts involving four ASEAN member states, Taiwan and China in recent years.

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"Everyone is now watching the Philippines, we expect China to send its message to Southeast Asian countries through Duterte", the official said, requesting anonymity.

Mr Duterte supports his country negotiating directly with China which Chinese leaders have been demanding. He will also host a gala dinner for the Leaders and delegates on the same day.

The draft follows a similar statement at an Asean summit in Laos previous year when intensive Chinese lobbying helped to ensure there was no mention of the ruling.

In a statement, Malaca├▒ang said the celebration, which will be held at Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay on Saturday, will "showcase our innate hospitality and joei de vivre [joy of life] as a people".

A diplomat at the ASEAN secretariat said there was urgency from all parties to get the framework done this year, but ASEAN was taking "a leap of faith" with China and there were concerns about what the end result might be.

"The code of conduct at sea is another story".

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Just a week ago, on April 21, China challenged the party of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana as they made a routine visit to disputed Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Jokowi will also attend meetings during the summit with two sub-regional initiatives, the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) and the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT).

The ruling of the tribunal based in The Hague also reaffirmed the Philippines' maritime entitlements in the South China Sea.

Dela Rosa said more than 40,000 police, military and force multipliers will ensure peace and order for the meet, adding they be on guard on land, sea, and air.

Duterte said he preferred to discuss a code of conduct on the South China Sea.

Duterte, who took office in June, has taken steps to fix relations with China which had been damaged by the territorial conflict.

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