China, ASEAN Agree On Part Of Text For SCS Code Of Conduct
China and the ASEAN nations have agreed on part of the text of the long-awaited code of conduct for the South China Sea, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in an address in which he tagged the US as “the biggest troublemaker” in the disputed waterway, 90% of which is claimed by Beijing based on the 9-dash line sketched by Kuomintang geographers in 1947.
Photo Insert: Foreign Minister Wang Yi
During a virtual summit with his counterparts from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Wang also warned against “external interference” in the South China Sea, in a pointed rebuke to the US. Up to a third of world trade passes through the contentious waters, which are subject to a number of competing claims, Laura Zhou reported for the pro-China South China Morning Post (SCMP). Chinese billionaire Jack Ma owns SCMP.
The resumed negotiations on the code of conduct – including an agreement on its preface – “demonstrated once again that as long as the common political will to move forward with consultations is maintained, no difficulty can stand in our way, whether it be a raging epidemic or external interference,” Wang said, according to a Chinese foreign ministry readout.
Wang said Beijing would never make further claims in the South China Sea and promised that China would not take any unilateral moves to intensify disputes over the waterway, but Filipino critics noted that China does not respect agreements, as when it agreed with the Philippines that the ships of both countries would withdraw from the Scarborough Shoal in 2012 to ease tensions.
Philippine ships left the shoal but Chinese ships stayed put. The Philippines and China fought a 90-minute battle in the Spratlys during the term of President Fidel Ramos.
China also dumped the provisions of the agreement covering the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997.