Posted by: Chuck | August 14, 2013

China says in no hurry to sign South China Sea accord


US Navy 030611-N-3160B-003 Signalman Seaman Ad...

US Navy 030611-N-3160B-003 Signalman Seaman Adrian Delaney practices his semaphore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Reuters) – China is in no rush to sign a proposed agreement on maritime rules with Southeast Asia governing behavior in the disputed South China Sea, and countries should not have unrealistic expectations, the Chinese foreign minister said on Monday.

After years of resisting efforts by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to start talks on the proposed Code of Conduct, China said it would host talks between senior officials in September. Washington has not taken sides, but Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated in Brunei last month the U.S. strategic interest in freedom of navigation through the busy sea and desire to see a Code of Conduct signed quickly. Speaking in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said a lot more work on the Code of Conduct (CoC) was needed.

Members of the Vietnamese Guard of Honor condu...

Members of the Vietnamese Guard of Honor conduct a troop review at the National Convention Center during the first “plus” defense ministers meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Hanoi, Vietnam. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Four ASEAN nations, including Vietnam and the Philippines, have overlapping claims with China.

China and the Philippines accuse each other of violating the Declaration of Conduct, a non-binding confidence-building agreement on maritime conduct signed by China and ASEAN in 2002.

Such differences could be another obstacle to agreeing on a more comprehensive pact as China has stressed that countries must first show good faith by abiding by the DoC.

Critics say China is intent on cementing its claims over the sea through its superior and growing naval might, and has little interest in rushing to agree to a code of conduct.

Divisions among ASEAN over the maritime dispute burst into the open a year ago when a summit chaired by Chinese ally Cambodia failed to issue a closing communique for the first time in the group’s 45-year history. (Source: Reuters)

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