Thu, 07 Dec 2023

Singapore, October 4 (ANI): Amid growing territorial disputes between China and other littoral states in the South China Sea (SCS), Singapore called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to use diplomacy and dialogues to settle the disputes.

Speaking to ANI, Ong Keng Yong, Ambassador-at-Large at the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday said, "There must be a conclusion, otherwise we cannot reassure our shipping community, international companies dealing with business in this part of the world. I think the important thing now is that both sides have to sit down and go through all the possible scenarios and options and then have a commonsensical conclusion. If they maintain their respective position, we cannot get any conclusion."China and ASEAN agreed on a Declaration of Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea in 2002, but progress on a Code of Conduct (COC) has been slow going amid an increasing risk of conflict.

For the last two years, most of the negotiations over the South China Sea, the thorniest issue between China and ASEAN, have been conducted online because of the Covid pandemic.

The COC would safeguard the rights and interests of all parties in the South China Sea.

China and ASEAN are currently working to speed up the conclusion of negotiations in the issuance of a legally binding Code of Conduct (COC) in the SCS.

In May 2022, the two parties resumed the physical textual negotiation of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text during the 36th Joint Working Group on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (JWG-DOC) in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

China and five other parties including four ASEAN member states -Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam - hold competing claims in the South China Sea. Still, the Chinese claims are the most expansive and a 2016 international arbitration tribunal ruled that they had no legal basis.

ASEAN comprises ten members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (ANI)

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