Singapore backs peaceful resolution of sea dispute

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star

SINGAPORE – The city-state of Singapore has expressed support for a peaceful resolution of the overlapping claims of some areas in the South China Sea.

Although Singapore is not a claimant state, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan noted that majority of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have trade and economic-related interests, which also puts premium on peace and stability in the region.

“So, what are ASEAN’s interests? Our interests are, number one, freedom of navigation and overflight because all of us are dependent on trade and we want trade to be able to flow securely, peacefully, without tension, without risk,” Balakrishnan told the gathering of the 8th ASEAN Visiting Journalists Program last week.

“Even if there’s no war, if there’s tension, your insurance premiums for trade will go up. You immediately erode our profit margins, erode our volumes of trade,” he said.

Balakrishnan discussed the need to address the issue of “peace, stability, with freedom of navigation and overflight so that trade is not affected.”  

“We want a rules-based world order where international law counts. Not just because international law itself is something so powerful, but because international law provides avenues for the peaceful resolution of disputes,” he said.

“And as I said before, even in South China Sea, within ASEAN member-states, there are overlapping claims. And we want, whether it’s within ASEAN or external to ASEAN, avenues for peaceful resolution of disputes,” he added.

“But of course you have to leave it to the individual claimants to settle all these differences. ASEAN wants peaceful resolution of disputes,” Balakrishnan said.

The claimant countries include the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, China and Malaysia. 

“The third dimension is we still want to preserve ASEAN unity, ASEAN centrality and ASEAN relevance,” he said.




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