editorial.no.18

The Australian, American and Japanese Foreign Ministers in Manila last weekend for the ASEAN meet.


THERE is a renewed call from the rest of the world urging China to respect the year-old decision of the Permanent Arbitration Court (PAC) and compliance with the ruling that invalidated China’s vast claims to the disputed waters.

U.S., Japan and Australia urged China and the Philippines to abide by last year’s The Hague arbitration ruling, which invalidated China’s claim to almost the entire South China Sea, where more than $3 trillion worth of goods pass each year.

Unfortunately, the current Philippine leaders, whose predecessors worked hard in order to right a wrong through the proper court, are avoiding to press for Chinese compliance.

Instead, Duterte & company are on the side of China as the latter promises billions of dollars in loans and aid.

Shame!

Some Filipinos, on the occasion of ASEAN’s 50th year, changed their profile photos in Facebook to include the phrase “ONE WITH ASEAN” as an expression of their affinity to the regional organization.

Perhaps, President Rodrigo Duterte and his Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano should also amend their profile photos to say “ONE WITH CHINA.”

While in Manila for ASEAN’s Foreign Ministers’ Meet last weekend, the American, Australian and Japanese foreign ministers called for a complete stoppage to land reclamation and building of military installations in the South China Sea and compliance with the PAC arbitration ruling which declared illegal China’s vast ownership claims to the disputed waters.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Japan’s Taro¯ Ko¯no, also called on ASEAN foreign ministers to swiftly negotiate a legally binding code of conduct with China aimed at preventing an escalation of conflicts in the West Philippine Sea, one of the world’s busiest waterways.

Australia, the United States and Japan have urged Southeast Asia and China to ensure that a code of conduct on the West Philippine Sea they have committed to draw up will be legally binding, and said they strongly opposed “coercive unilateral actions.”

There are concerns China will not allow the code to be legally binding.

Likewise, there are concerns that China will keep delaying the start of the negotiations.

Our concern is that China will twist the arms of the ASEAN delegates and use its coercive powers at the negotiating table using the Philippines and Cambodia representatives, its virtual stooges in the regional organization.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China should establish a set of rules that is “legally binding, meaningful, effective and consistent with international law,” the three foreign ministers said.

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