ASEAN statement to go easy on Beijing over South China Sea dispute

ASEAN statement to go easy on Beijing over South China Sea disputeā€

Under Article 20 (4) of the Charter, the ASEAN Summit may on such occasions meet and take action.

The leaders of 10 member nations would discuss issues including regional security, piracy, cross-border kidnappings and the South China Sea dispute.

China has been turning reefs and shoals in areas of the sea claimed by the Philippines and other nations into artificial islands, and installing military facilities there.

Duterte said invoking the global court's verdict to Chinese government would be a bad precedent because it would only result in a fight between China and the Philippines.

Duterte has set aside the ruling as he steers the Philippines closer to China.

Amnesty International said Asean leaders should look beyond their comfortable surroundings and spare a thought for the thousands of people killed in the Philippines' bloody crackdown on drugs. Mr. Duterte said. "Para mahinto na yung dream ninyo (To stop that dream of yours), we can not, on our own, enforce the arbitral judgment", he added. "Indonesia will get a chance to share its perspectives as we face an increasingly fluid world and uncertain geo-political and geo-economic situations", Jose said during a press briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jakarta on Tuesday.

That means discussion of the disputed South China Sea - China claims cross over with some Southeast Asian states - will probably be on the back burner.

Duterte has relentlessly railed against the mostly Western critics of his drug war, angrily demanding they respect him while in turn using abusive terms to describe them.

However it did not mention China directly, nor an global tribunal's ruling previous year rejecting Beijing's sweeping claims to the South China Sea, through which US$5 trillion (RM22 trillion) in annual shipping trade passes.

The Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is due to attend a summit in Beijing next month on its massive "Belt and Road" initiative to increase trade and infrastructure ties between China, Asia and beyond.

He said: "They (China) really claim it as their own, even a long time ago".

Signing China up to a legally binding and enforceable code for the strategic waterway has always been a goal for claimant members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). This led to a sharp deterioration in bilateral relations.

Chinese officials pledged US$15 billion in investment in the Philippines during Duterte's visit to China in October, according to the Philippine Department of Finance. There are hesitations at this point because we are expecting at least a mention of the ruling. He added: "Before, China said we will not honour (it), so why will you force (them) to honour?"

With the Organisation For Economic Cooperation and Development forecasting growth of 4.9 percent across Asean this year, from 4.8 percent last year, and average yearly growth of 5.1 percent through to 2021, former Philippine foreign secretary Albert said Asean leaders still see the benefits of economic integration.

The draft statement merely states that the completion of crafting of the code (COC) of conduct framework on the contested waters by mid-2017.

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