US: Maritime dispute an issue for all Asean members
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - January 22, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - After calling China’s activities in the South China Sea “wholesale reclamation,” the US government said yesterday that Beijing’s behavior is a concern not just for the Philippines and the United States but all of Southeast Asia.

“This is not an issue exclusively for the Philippines and the US but for all 10 ASEAN countries, to see the importance of finding rules-based, peaceful resolution,” US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel said.

He was referring to sovereignty questions as well as “behavior problems” that threaten the stability and congeniality of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Russel and Assistant Secretary for Defense David Shear led the US delegation to the Fifth Philippines-United States Bilateral Strategic Dialogue held from Jan. 20 to 21 in Manila.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Evan Garcia and Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino headed the Philippine delegation.

The two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on regional and global developments, including measures to ensure that the alliance continues to contribute to regional peace and stability.

The Philippines and the US expressed concern over developments in the South China Sea that are inconsistent with the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and international law and emphasized the importance of upholding peace and stability, respect for international law, unimpeded lawful commerce and freedom of navigation and overflight.

Manila and Washington reiterated that international disputes in the South China Sea should be settled in accordance with international law, through diplomatic and other peaceful means, including the use of international arbitration.

Russel said the US has been consistent and firm in calling on China to act in keeping with commitment, international law and in the spirit of constructive engagement, particularly with ASEAN and the Asia Pacific region.

He added that the behavior of China and the need to clarify its maritime territorial claim consistent with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), is a component of ongoing dialogue of Washington with Beijing.

“We have interest in stable, healthy constructive bilateral relationship with China. We have an interest between China and Chinese neighbors in the region including the Philippines but behavior that raises tensions… and behavior that would appear to be inconsistent with principles enumerated, will counter those goals,” Russel said in a press conference at the Diamond Hotel.

He said that China has a number of projects in the South China Sea that include the reclaiming of land, shoals and rocks in disputed areas.

Secretary of State John Kerry laid out last year a persuasive case for restraint, urging not only China but also each of the claimant states to honor and live by the principle of the DOC that no party should take steps that create tension.

“It is a common sense tool. Now there are a range of diplomatic processes, bilateral, multilateral dialogue, including between China and the 10 ASEAN countries. This is an ongoing concern not only of claimants of ASEAN but all Asia Pacific nations – and frankly all nations – who rely on freedom of navigation and sea lanes and principle of unimpeded commerce,” Russel said.

“We look forward to the day China and its neighbors will conclude a binding Code of Conduct. For the meantime, there should be exercise of restraint,” he added.

ASIA PACIFIC ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS BEIJING CHINA CHINA AND CHINESE CHINA DECLARATION CODE OF CONDUCT CONDUCT OF PARTIES SOUTH CHINA SEA
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Recommended
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with