ASEAN chairman's statement mum on PH victory in Hague

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 07 2016 10:54 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte attends the ASEAN-China Summit in Vientiane, Laos on Wednesday. Soe Zeya Tun, Reuters

VIENTIANE - The Chairman's Statement of the ASEAN Summit in Laos did not mention the Philippine victory in the arbitration court that invalidated China's sweeping maritime claim in South China Sea, echoing the controversial joint statement of its foreign ministers last July.

But ASEAN leaders expressed the need to maintain freedom of navigation in and over-flight over the South China Sea.

It also stressed the importance of "non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities, including land reclamation that could further complicate the situation and escalate tensions" in the region regarding the South China Sea.

"We remain seriously concerned over recent and ongoing developments and took note of the concerns expressed by some Leaders on the land reclamations and escalation of activities in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region," the statement said.

"We reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation in and over - flight above the South China Sea."

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The Chairman's Statement is the final document issued by the host country on behalf of the ASEAN leaders summarizing their points of agreement during the summit.

The leaders called for a need "to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities and avoid actions that may further complicate the situation" and the need for "peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)."

They called for the "full and effective implementation" of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and the early adoption of a binding Code of Conduct (COC).

China agreed with the ASEAN to uphold freedom of navigation in and overflight over the South China Sea.

They also vowed to resolve territorial disputes peacefully through "friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned."

"We reaffirm our respect for and commitment to the freedom of navigation in and over-flight above the South China Sea as provided for by the universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS; and undertake to resolve the territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force, through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned, in accordance with the universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS," the Chinese and ASEAN leaders said in their joint statement issued at the end of the ASEAN-China summit.

"We also undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability." 

 They agreed to come up with a binding Code of Conduct based on consensus and welcomed the establishment of a hotline and a code for "unplanned encounters" in the South China Sea.