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Statements from ASEAN Foreign Ministers, and ASEAN+China, Both Stress Dialogue; Reject Obama Push for Strife in South China Sea

July 25, 2016 (EIRNS)—The statements issued this week, both by the foreign ministers of the 10 ASEAN nations (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), and by the ASEAN-plus-China separate ministerial meeting, stress peace-seeking and dialogue in the region. They do not contain the references demanded by Obama envoys, to cite the Hague court ruling against China, contesting its claims in the South China Sea, nor do they make other belligerent points. This is rightly hailed as a diplomatic loss for the Obama Asia Pivot.

The ASEAN foreign ministers met July 24 in Vientiane, Laos, for their 49th annual session. This has been followed by certain ASEAN-plus-One meetings with other countries, including, today, the China-ASEAN meeting, and United States-ASEAN session, and the Russia-ASEAN meeting. In addition, July 26 begins the 18-nation East Asia Summit (EAS)—Foreign Ministers of EAS members, comprising the ASEAN 10, plus China, Russia, India, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. The EAS, too, customarily issues a summit statement, which is yet another moment for potential diplomatic truth.

The new ASEAN ministerial communique speaks of the need to find peaceful resolutions to disputes, working through bilateral discussions, regarding the South China Sea. It acknowledges conflicting views, in general language: "We remain seriously concerned about recent and ongoing developments and took note of the concerns expressed by some ministers 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."

Today’s separate China-ASEAN statement specifically calls for work on a "Code of Conduct" for the South China Sea, based on the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), in turn based on the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS, to which the U.S. does not belong). E.G. Point 2 of the China-ASEAN statement:

"The Parties concerned undertake to resolve their 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 universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS."

The document also states approval for national or

"cooperative activities, in fields such as navigation safety, search and rescue, marine scientific research, environmental protection, and combating transnational crimes at sea...."

Meantime, at the United States-ASEAN meeting today, the U.S. representatives stressed "the importance of adhering to the Philippines-China arbitration ruling on the South China Sea by the Hague...," according to the Voice of America.

At today’s Russia-ASEAN meeting, it is reported that there was discussion on advancing economic relations between ASEAN and the Eurasian Economic Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Council. It began with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying that Russia defends "the role of the ASEAN ten in regional affairs." Tass quoted him: "I would like to note that we closely coordinate our work with ASEAN in building a modern security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region, based on the principles of equality, openness and concern for the interests of all players."

The Wall Street Journal, like other outlets of the war party in Washington, rants today that China is sabotaging ASEAN unity and openly calls for breaking up ASEAN’s policy of consensus, creating, "smaller coalitions that would allow an ASEAN majority to move forward on contentious issues"—meaning to join Obama’s confrontation with China. This is shown to be nonsense by the fact that all ten ASEAN nations signed the communique calling for dialogue of the "sovereign nations directly concerned," rejecting Obama’s provocations and the western-controlled "arbitration" court in the Hague.

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