China warns Southeast Asia over maritime dispute

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Apr 28 2016 10:48 PM

SINGAPORE, Singapore - China urged Southeast Asian nations on Thursday to resolve territorial disputes through dialogue and repeated a warning of "negative consequences" if the Philippines wins an arbitration case in The Hague.

Four ASEAN member states -- the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei -- have rival claims with China to parts of the South China Sea and tensions have mounted in recent years since China transformed contested reefs into artificial islands that can support military facilities.

The Philippines has taken a case against China to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, where a ruling is due in the coming weeks, which many expect to go against China.

Any sort of arbitration goes against the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea signed between 10 nations from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China in 2002, said Chinese vice foreign minister Liu Zhenmin.

"The arbitration is not by an international court, it's arbitration brought unilaterally by the Philippine government against China but China took the decision not to participate in proceedings."

Beijing has refused to take part in any of the Hague proceedings, which it calls illegal, and has said it will not recognise the ruling.

It maintains that the dispute should be resolved between individual claimant countries instead of through the ASEAN body, and has claimed in the past week that Brunei, Cambodia and Laos back its stance.

Liu was speaking to the media after an annual meeting in Singapore between ASEAN and Chinese senior foreign ministry officials.

The DOC, which was signed between China and ASEAN in 2002, states that signatories are to resolve disputes through dialogues and diplomatic means.

Calling the DOC the common basis for China and ASEAN to uphold peace and stability, Liu said it is necessary for peace and maritime cooperation in the region.

"Deviation from the DOC will lead to negative consequences," he said.

This year the Southeast Asian bloc marks its 25th year of diplomatic relations with China.

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