US destroyer challenges China's claims in South China Sea

US destroyer challenges China's claims in South China Sea

China's top diplomat says talks for a nonaggression pact aimed at preventing clashes from erupting in the disputed South China Sea may start this year if "outside parties" don't cause a major disruption.

China government earlier cited the role of the ASEAN community in contributing to regional peace, prosperity and stability in the region.

It once again underscores the strong political will of China and the ASEAN countries to work together to maintain stability in the South China Sea and sustain the positive momentum they have established in their relations.

In a press briefing after hosting the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, Cayetano said he initially objected to including the phrases "non-militarization" and "land reclamation" from the meeting's statement because it no longer reflected current developments in the dispute in the South China Sea.

As a sign of the booming ties between China and the 10-country group, China has been Asean's largest trade partner for eight years. Despite calling for non-militarisation in the South China Sea and raising concerns about "land reclamation", the statement did not insist on a legally binding code of conduct for managing the area, as Vietnam had pushed for.

"It's not reflective of the present position", the Foreign Affairs Secretary said.

It is said that Vietnam wanted a more assertive ASEAN communiqué at the end of their meeting in Manila this week, but the other ASEAN nations, notably Cambodia, opted for a non-confrontational stand against China.

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"I will call for demilitarisation in the South China Sea", he said on Sunday.

Japan's new Foreign Minister Taro Kono on Monday brushed aside a provocative remark by his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi during their first talks since he assumed his post last week, saying he wants Beijing to "learn how to behave as a big power".

"But the problem of territorial disputes between China and the Philippines is between China and the Philippines".

China has opposed including mention of its island-building or an arbitration ruling that invalidated Beijing's historical claims to the strategic waters.

The broad framework, which leaves wide scope for disagreement, has critics raising doubts about how effective the COC will be. The statement urged them to make sure such a code of conduct be "legally binding, meaningful, effective, and consistent with global law".

Kono said at a press conference Monday that Japan supported the USA in its activities in the South China Sea to ensure freedom of navigation and in a veiled reference to China, opposed "any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force".

Several foreign ministers of the member states of the East Asia Summit and the 24th ASEAN Security Forum were attending meetings in Manila, where the main focus of the discussions was North Korea as well as the South China Sea.

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