3 Asean states back PH plan on sea row | Global News

3 Asean states back PH plan on sea row

/ 05:00 AM August 05, 2014


Assistant Secretary Charles Jose: Manila plan. AFP

MANILA, Philippines–The Philippines on Monday said it had won support from Vietnam, Indonesia and Brunei for a plan to ease tensions in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), which it intended to present at a regional meeting this week.

China and several of its Southeast Asian neighbors are embroiled in increasingly bitter territorial disputes over the strategic sea that Beijing claims almost in its entirety.


Manila’s plan calls for an immediate moratorium on activities that escalate tensions and implementation of a code of conduct in the sea, which is home to vital shipping routes and is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits.


The plan, to be presented at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meeting in Burma (Myanmar) this week, was raised during Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario’s recent visits to Brunei, Vietnam and Indonesia, said Assistant Secretary Charles Jose, the spokesman of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

“He has taken trips (to these countries) precisely to raise the triple-action plan and so far, all of these countries have expressed support for the initiative,” Jose told reporters.

He said Del Rosario and other Filipino delegates would try to raise the initiative at the various Asean discussions.

The Asean includes the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam along with nonmembers China and Taiwan, have conflicting claims to parts or all of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer South China Sea.

Tensions have risen in recent years as China has become more aggressive in enforcing its claims.


Beijing’s deployment of an oil rig in contested waters in May triggered anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam and sent relations plummeting.

The discovery that China is reclaiming land on at least five reefs in the West Philippine Sea has drawn protests from the Philippines and criticism from Manila’s ally the United States, whose top diplomat in the region, Daniel Russel, has suggested a moratorium on activities in the sea that raise tensions, inspiring the Philippine triple-action plan.

The artificial island that China is building on Mabini Reef (Johnson South Reef) in the West Philippine Sea is said to be suitable for an airstrip or an offshore military outpost.

Manila’s plan includes a call for implementation of a 2002 Asean-China Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and will also seek a settlement mechanism anchored on international law to resolve the disputes.

The Philippines has already embarked on the third action, bringing its territorial dispute with China to the United Nations International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, which has ordered Beijing to comment on Manila’s petition by Dec. 15.

The Burma meetings will also involve talks between the Asean foreign ministers and counterparts from the bloc’s main regional trading partners—China, Japan and South Korea.

There will also be a regional security dialogue involving 27 countries, including the Asean members, China, Japan, South Korea, United States, Russia and Australia.


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PH to table action plan vs China at meet

TAGS: ASEAN, China, Philippines, sea dispute, South China Sea, territorial dispute, West Philippine Sea

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