Kerry Urges for South China Sea Rules

MarineLink.com
Monday, February 24, 2014
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

By Greg Torode and Manuel Mogato, Reuters

Pressure is mounting on China and Southeast Asia to agree a code of conduct to keep the peace in the disputed South China Sea, but Beijing is warning of a long road ahead.

Only last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged China and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to work out rules to ease tensions after a fresh Chinese campaign of assertiveness in the region.

"The longer the process takes, the longer tensions will simmer and the greater the chance of a miscalculation by somebody that could trigger a conflict," Kerry said in Indonesia during a visit to Asia.

ASEAN officials told Reuters that a working group of officials from China and the 10-member association would resume negotiations in Singapore on March 18 after agreeing to accelerate talks last year that have made little headway so far.

The code of conduct is intended to bind China and ASEAN to detailed rules of behavior at sea - all geared to managing tensions long-term while broader territorial disputes are resolved. It stems from a landmark 2002 declaration between ASEAN and China, then hailed as the first significant agreement between the grouping and an outside power.

Much is at stake.

China claims about 90 percent of the South China Sea, displaying its reach on official maps with a so-called nine-dash line that stretches deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia.

Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims to the sea, which sits above potentially rich but largely unexplored oil and gas deposits.

The South China Sea carries an estimated $5 trillion in ship-borne trade annually - including oil imports by China, Japan and South Korea.

Kerry also raised the issue in Beijing, where Chinese officials generally bristle at Washington's growing involvement in China's territorial disputes. China wanted to try to reach a deal, Kerry said.

In the meantime, Kerry said it was vital for countries to refrain from "coercive or unilateral measures" to assert their claims - an apparent reference to a string of recent moves by China, from expanded naval patrols to new fishing restrictions, that continue to rattle a nervous region.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Beijing was sincere about pushing for a code of conduct.

"The burden is heavy and the road is long for talks on the code of conduct," it said in a statement sent to Reuters.

Philippines Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario last week said ASEAN was seeking "an expeditious conclusion" to talks.

Playing for Time
Many regional officials and military officers have long feared Beijing wanted to "play for time" - wary of being tied down and preferring instead to buttress its controversial claims while pressuring weaker neighbours into separate talks over specific disputes.

An earlier unofficial draft code of conduct drawn up by Indonesia outlines an agreement that ties the region to refraining from even routine military exercises in disputed waters and settling disputes according to the U.N. Law of the Sea or little-used ASEAN procedures.

China has objected to efforts by Manila to challenge its claims under the Law of the Sea at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague.

The Indonesian draft, seen by Reuters, also provides for full freedom of navigation and overflight while setting detailed rules for preventing accidents at sea. The occupation of previously unoccupied features at sea is outlawed.

The document has yet to be formally tabled but has circulated within ASEAN for more than a year as a possible basis for discussions, ASEAN diplomats said.

China was reluctant to be presented with a "pre-cooked" draft, said Termsak Chalermpalanupap, a political analyst at Singapore's Institute of South East Asian Studies and a former staffer at the ASEAN secretariat in Jakarta.

Many ambiguities remained about China's position, Termsak added.

"We still have to find out if they really want a legally binding code," he said.

ASEAN leaders want a code with teeth given the inadequacies of the 2002 declaration in preventing rising tensions, he said.

Beijing is expected to seek to thwart any push to include the Paracel islands - a strategic archipelago south of Hainan Island that is occupied by China but also claimed by Vietnam, in any final deal.

Any Chinese attempt to create an air defence identification zone in the South China Sea - something Washington has warned against - is widely expected by regional analysts and diplomats to include the Paracels.

Beijing has denied reports it has plans for a zone in the South China Sea. Its announcement in November of such a boundary in the East China Sea, where aircraft have to identify themselves to Chinese authorities, drew condemnation from Washington.

Carl Thayer, a South China Sea expert at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra, said he had noticed a cautious optimism surrounding the prospect of fresh talks.

"The atmospherics have definitely improved but I do fear we are still talking about an effort that is going to be protracted if not interminable," he said.

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing. Editing by Dean Yates)

Maritime Today


The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter April 2016 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Energy

India's Highest non-coking coal discharge at Gangavaram Port

Gangavaram Port, the deepest and the most modern port in the country, has created yet another historical milestone record by discharging 1,56,339 metric tons of Non-Coking Coal from the vessel M.

Floating Products Storage in Focus

For much of 2015, talk of floating storage was dominated by speculation that the contango in crude futures might support crude floating storage, says Gibson Tanker Report.

Olympic Subsea Vessel Bags Contract

Olympic Shipping has secured a contract for Olympic Delta, an inspection, maintenance and repair (IMR) vessel, with an international client  to work on a renewable energy project.

Maritime Security

Canadian Navy Frigate Refit Program Completed

Seaspan joined Harjit S. Sajjan, Canada’s Minister of National Defense, at an official ceremony today to celebrate the completion of the Halifax-Class Modernization/Frigate

Drug Interception at Red Hook Container Terminal

Approximately 121 pounds of heroin and eight pounds of cocaine were discovered in a shipping container of vegetables that was moving from Ecuador to Miami, Fla.

How France Sank Japan's Sub Dream

Ousting of Japan ally PM Abbott opened door to rivals; Tokyo slow to respond to new competitive process. In 2014, a blossoming friendship between Australian

News

Italian Ship Rescues 26 Migrants off Libya

An Italian merchant ship rescued 26 migrants off the coast of Libya in rough seas and others were feared missing, the Coast Guard said on Saturday. The Coast

Symphony Sun’ Launched in Leer

On Friday the 29th of April, Nb. 420 was launched in Leer. She was christened ‘Symphony Sun’ and is the fourth vessel in a series of 6 that will be delivered to Symphony Shipping.

ACR to Debut Pathfinder PRO SART at OTC

An important addition to any commercial vessel’s survival gear kit, the Pathfinder PRO SART is introduced by ACR Electronics, Inc. at this year’s OTC. The new search

People in the News

Italian Ship Rescues 26 Migrants off Libya

An Italian merchant ship rescued 26 migrants off the coast of Libya in rough seas and others were feared missing, the Coast Guard said on Saturday. The Coast

ACR to Debut Pathfinder PRO SART at OTC

An important addition to any commercial vessel’s survival gear kit, the Pathfinder PRO SART is introduced by ACR Electronics, Inc. at this year’s OTC. The new search

Great Lakes Inks M.E., N.C. Coastal Protection Project Deals

Great Lakes Announces $55 Million in Subcontract Work in the Middle East and Award of $38 Million for a Domestic Coastal Protection Project Great Lakes Dredge

Government Update

Holland America Line Kicks off Seattle's Record Cruise Season

The Port of Seattle begins the 2016 cruise season welcoming the first ship call, Holland America Cruise Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam. Larger vessels and more cruises

MARAD: $5 Mln Available for Marine Highway Projects

The Maritime Administration (MARAD) has announced the availability of $5 million in Federal funding to expand marine highway service by creating new or expanding

Pacific Nations Take a Stand on Shipping Emissions

On Earth Day, Pacific leaders queued among 175 countries to sign the Paris Agreement in New York. Earlier that day in London, the International Maritime Organization (IMO),

Offshore Energy

Subsea 7 Profits Dip in Q1

Subsea 7 S.A. announced its financial results for the first quarter ending March 31, 2016, reporting revenues of $746 million, down 37 percent from the prior year period.

Ulstein Verft's First Wind Service Vessel Launched

Shipbuilder Ulstein Verft has launched its first vessel within the renewable energy segment, and also the first with the newly-developed X-STERN hull line design.

Incat Crowther Supplies Crewboat Design, Build Kits

Incat Crowther has been awarded a contract with shipbuilder Astinave EP of Guayaquil, Ecuador for the supply of vessel design services and aluminum component kits for a pair of 22.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Ship Electronics Ship Repair Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1127 sec (9 req/sec)