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 Reporter February 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Energy

GasLog Post 4Q 2014 Results

GasLog Ltd. and its subsidiaries an international owner, operator and manager of liquefied natural gas carriers, today reported its unaudited financial results for the quarter ended December 31,

Petrobras Downgrade Shakes Market

Moody's shocked bond investors this week with a surprise two-notch downgrade that put Brazilian oil company Petrobras in junk territory. The move was seen by some investors as overly assertive,

Brightoil Reports Steady Growth in Interim Results

Brightoil Petroleum (Holdings) Limited announced its interim results for the six months ended December 31, 2014, reporting steady growth over the period.   During the period,

Maritime Security

China's Maritime Advances Worry US

The Director of U.S. National Intelligence, James Clapper, has expressed his concern at the progress of China in maritime zones it shares with its neighbors, accused

Container Ship Runs Aground at Fremantle Port

A ship that ran aground at Fremantle Port early Saturday has been refloated. The 62,000-tonne Denmark-registered container ship Maersk Garonne became stuck in soft sand about 500m off South Mole.

Drowning at Castaway Cay

Police are investigating the apparent drowning of an American cruise ship passenger off at Disney’s private island in the Bahamas - Castaway Cay in the Abacos.

News

China's Maritime Advances Worry US

The Director of U.S. National Intelligence, James Clapper, has expressed his concern at the progress of China in maritime zones it shares with its neighbors, accused

British Queen to Name New Ship

Queen Elizabeth II will christen P&O Cruises’ new flagship Britannia in Southampton, England, on March 10. She will be accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Berenberg in $1.1bln Box Bid

The world's second-oldest bank Joh. Berenberg Gossler & Co. KG is lining up a new fund worth EUR 1bn ($1.1bn) for the containership sector.   A report appeared

People in the News

British Queen to Name New Ship

Queen Elizabeth II will christen P&O Cruises’ new flagship Britannia in Southampton, England, on March 10. She will be accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Zamakona Yards' Commitment to Well-being

Recently employees of Zamakona Yards participated in a training course for maintaining Health, Safety and Environment (HSE). The theoretical practice focused on working at heights,

GasLog Post 4Q 2014 Results

GasLog Ltd. and its subsidiaries an international owner, operator and manager of liquefied natural gas carriers, today reported its unaudited financial results for the quarter ended December 31,

Government Update

LA, Long Beach Ports Cooperation Approved

Federal regulators approve expanded working pact for Port of Long Beach and Port of Los Angeles to cooperate on congestion relief   The ports of Long Beach and

Mexico Approves 5 Shallow Water Areas in Round One Oil Tender

Mexico has approved the terms for five shallow water areas containing around 355 million barrels of oil equivalent as part of its Round One tender to open up the country's oil fields,

Dredging Project to Protect Virginia Shoreline

Outer Continental Shelf sand will protect infrastructure, restore dunes and habitat   The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Naval Air Station Oceana at Dam Neck,

Offshore Energy

Hercules Offshore Shares Fall 33%

Drilling contractor Hercules Offshore Inc's shares fell as much as 33 percent to a record low on Friday, a day after Deutsche Bank cut its price target on the company's stock to $0.

Brightoil Reports Steady Growth in Interim Results

Brightoil Petroleum (Holdings) Limited announced its interim results for the six months ended December 31, 2014, reporting steady growth over the period.   During the period,

Mexico Approves 5 Shallow Water Areas in Round One Oil Tender

Mexico has approved the terms for five shallow water areas containing around 355 million barrels of oil equivalent as part of its Round One tender to open up the country's oil fields,

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Ship Electronics Ship Repair Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | 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: 0.3189 sec (3 req/sec)