ASEAN and China have far to go to agree key sea code

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Subject

Negotiations over a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea.

Significance

ASEAN and China last month agreed on a first draft of a Code of Conduct (CoC) for the South China Sea, where four South-east Asian countries and Beijing have conflicting maritime and territorial jurisdictional claims. China wants the CoC to be signed by 2021. As ASEAN-China negotiations continue, tensions are rising in the South China Sea between Beijing and Washington, which supports ‘freedom of navigation’ operations in the South China Sea, and between Beijing and the South-east Asian claimants.

Impacts

  • China-US friction over trade, the political crisis in Hong Kong and US arms sales to Taiwan will exacerbate tensions in the South China Sea.
  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will come under growing pressure to recalibrate his pro-Beijing policy.
  • Vietnam will step up its vigilance in the South China Sea while trying to manage tensions with China through bilateral discussions.
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