ASEAN Concerns about the Current Development in the South China Sea

by Duangkamol Buranasomphop


            ASEAN Foreign Ministers have expressed their serious concerns over the ongoing developments in the South China Sea, which have increased tensions in the area. They met in Nay Pyi Taw, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, on 10 May 2014, when they issued a statement on the developments of the South China Sea.

            In the statement, they urged all parties concerned to exercise self-restraint and avoid actions that could undermine peace and stability in the area and to resolve disputes by peaceful means without resorting to threat or use of force.

            They reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace and stability, maritime security, freedom of navigation in and over- flight above the South China Sea, as well as the ASEAN’s Six-Point Principles on the South China Sea and the Joint Statement of the 15th ASEAN-China Summit on the 10th Anniversary of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

            The ASEAN Foreign Ministers also called on all parties to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) to undertake full and effective implementation of the DOC in order to create an environment of mutual trust and confidence. They emphasized the need for expeditiously working towards an early conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).

            Mr. Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs, on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, attended the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting, the 11th ASEAN Political-Security Council (APSC) Meeting, and the 14th ASEAN Coordinating Council Meeting on 10 May.

            According to a report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting discussed and adopted ASEAN’s Guidelines on External Relations which will serve as a basis for ASEAN to expand its relations other interested countries and regions. 

            The Meeting also discussed the ongoing regional and international issues. The Ministers agreed that ASEAN should continue to play a more active role in maintaining an environment of peace in the region as a foundation for ASEAN community-building process and sustained economic growth.  They discussed various issues among others, relations among the Northeast Asian countries, the situation in the Korean Peninsula, the Middle East Peace Process, and the South China Sea. 

            Regarding the recent developments in the South China Sea, the Ministers expressed their concerns and highlighted the need for all parties to exercise maximum restraint, take a measured response, and resort to peaceful means continue and to engage in dialogue. 

            At the 11th APSC Meeting, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers reviewed the progress of implementation of the remaining action lines in the ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint, such as on good governance, nontraditional security threats, supporting studies and on promoting peace, and conflict management and resolutions, as well as enhancing the coherence and coordination among the mechanisms and sectoral bodies, which should carry on beyond 2015. 

            At the 14th ACC Meeting, the Foreign Ministers discussed preparations for the 24th ASEAN Summit and considered several important documents, including the report on ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee and the report on ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group on ASEAN Community Post-2015 Vision. The Ministers discussed ways to strengthen coordination on cross cutting issues and across the three pillars in the community-building process which will be important for ASEAN as it meets future challenges, In this regard, the Meeting looked forward to the deliberations of the High-Level Task Force on Strengthening of the ASEAN Secretariat and Reviewing the ASEAN Organs.


Duangkamol Buranasomphop

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