Analyst: China uncomfortable with int'l criticism over sea activities
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - August 12, 2015 - 9:31pm

MANILA, Philippines — China seems to be uncomfortable with the growing criticisms over its reclamation activities in the disputed South China Sea, a foreign affairs analyst said.

Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia in the Freeman Chair in China Studies, said that China's move to establish maritime hotlines among foreign ministries is a sign that the Chinese are starting to recognize that their behavior causes great anxiety the region.

Glaser, however, also believes that the Asian power's initiative in the regional forum is unconvincing.

"So far, however, the pushback has not been sufficient to change China's calculus, which is that in the long term, Southeast Asian nations will be compelled to accommodate to Chinese interests in the South China Sea," Glaser said in an analysis released by Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The analyst stressed that the efficacy of the hotlines is "dubious" since coast guards, navies and maritime militias are not administered by foreign ministries.

"Moreover, China's foreign ministry is known to be institutionally weak and is rarely put in charge of handling crises," the analyst said.

Meanwhile, China also agreed with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to quicken the pace of discussions on a Code of Conduct (CoC) that would replace the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, a politically unbinding document.

Glaser, however, said that China should be persuaded to adopt a more compromising approach in dealing with the issue.

She added that the focus should be on peaceful management of disputes and respect on the interests of all claimant nations regardless of size and military capabilities.

"To achieve this goal, ASEAN must demand conclusion of a binding CoC before the end of 2015 that contains risk-reduction measures and a dispute settlement mechanism," Glaser said.

The analyst noted that the United States should "do its utmost to help forge this consensus."

US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter last month called on all claimant nations to immediately halt reclamation activities in the disputed sea. He also called for a halt to "further militarization of dispute features."

ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS BONNIE GLASER CHINA CHINA STUDIES CODE OF CONDUCT CONDUCT OF PARTIES FREEMAN CHAIR GLASER QUOT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASH CARTER SOUTH CHINA SEA
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