China sets conditions for talks on sea feud

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The South China Sea has always been the most divisive issue for the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), with China's influence looming large over its activities.

The DOC was signed in 2002 between China and Asean, a non-binding edict aimed to reduce the tensions in the region and prevent claimant-countries China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan from aggressively pursuing their claims.

Earlier this week the United States, Australia, and Japan collectively denounced China's continuing efforts to control the South China Sea and its increasingly vital shipping lanes.

The Asean envoys said the South China Sea issue was extensively discussed, with some ministers expressing concern on land reclamations by Beijing in the disputed maritime region.

The countries released a joint statement Monday after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held talks with the foreign ministers of Australia and Japan.

Also on Sunday the foreign ministers of ASEAN and China adopted a negotiating framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea, a move they hailed as progress but seen by critics as a tactic to buy China time to consolidate its maritime power.

According to media reports, Hanoi struck a less harmonious note by hypocritically trying to insert tough language criticising China's island building in the South China Sea, something Vietnam did first, resulting in a delay to the issuing of their joint statement on Saturday.

Cambodia is a key regional ally of China, which this week said it would pay the biggest price from new United Nations sanctions against North Korea because of its close economic ties with the country.

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On July 25, Wang urged ASEAN to reject "nonregional forces" that want to stir up trouble in the South China Sea, an apparent reference to the USA and Japan, which have carried out maritime exercises there.

"It's not reflective of the present position", the Foreign Affairs Secretary said.

While it has verbally acknowledged a need to establish operating procedures in the area, it insists that these codes be non-legally binding.

The new research led by Bonnie Glaser with Center for Strategic & International Studies finds an estimated 3.37 trillion dollars in trade passed through the South China Sea in 2016.

China's claims of sovereignty over the South China Sea were entirely rejected by a decision handed down by a court of arbitration in July previous year.

The 24th ARF meeting is part of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting from August 2-8 in Manila, the Philippines, with the participation of 10 ASEAN members and 17 partners.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday sent a congratulatory message to Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, which is the rotating chair of the Association of Southeastern Asian Nations (ASEAN), on the 50th founding anniversary of the regional organization.

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