Philippines says China wanted non-legally binding South China Sea code

Southeast Asian nations feud over China sea claims

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As a hard-won result achieved through the joint efforts of the two sides to reach an agreement, the document mirrors the shared commitment to build peace and stability in the waters demonstrated by China and the ASEAN countries recently.

Foreign Minister Taro Kono and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had every reason to press for the creation of an effective code of conduct at meetings with the ASEAN foreign ministers.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has stressed the importance of abiding by worldwide rules in the South China Sea despite China's rejection of a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that invalidated Beijing's claims.

Several Asean countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines, have said they still favour making the code legally binding, something experts say China is unlikely to agree to.

China had always been perceived as delaying negotiations with ASEAN so it can undertake and complete construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea without being restricted by any maritime code.

The ASEAN ministers and China also upheld the framework of the code of conduct that would serve as a basis for the creation of the actual rules for the disputed territory.

The tense talks came after Vietnam, which also claims parts of the strategically vital sea, insisted that tough language be inserted into the statement expressing concern over Chinese land reclamation in the contested waters.

Apart from the 10 ASEAN members, North Korea is one of 17 other countries including China, South Korea and the United States that participate at ARF meetings.

Tillerson, speaking on the sidelines of a regional security meeting in Manila, said the execution and implementation of new United Nations sanctions would be carefully watched and the resolution sends a strong message that North Korea needs to understand what the world expects of it.

Wang announced at the Manila meetings that China would be ready to start negotiations for the maritime code when its leader travels to the Philippines and joins ASEAN heads of state in November. The new Philippine government, under President Rodrigo Duterte, has opted to put the ruling aside in favor of billions of dollars in economic deals with China.

This has been the statement of the ASEAN foreign ministers regarding China's land reclamation and militarization of the area.

"China would keep pushing and ASEAN claimant states would be left with no option but to capitulate".

"The resolution is one that was passed unanimously thanks to cooperation from not only the United States but also China and Russia", Kang said.

The regional grouping decides by consensus, and previous year Cambodia and Laos, who receive massive aid from China, blocked any mention of the arbitration ruling in the final text. He says he won't give a concrete timeframe but that the USA will "know it when we see it".

"So I said the talks concern an issue that is urgent and ought to be addressed before any other political matters, and I hope the North will actively and positively respond".

But ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun earlier said nuclear action or sanctions taken by Washington would lead to an "unimaginable sea of fire" engulfing the US.

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