Posted by: Chuck | September 7, 2013

Manila accuses China of sea violation, Beijing says wants peace


English: The flags of ASEAN nations raised in ...

English: The flags of ASEAN nations raised in MH Thamrin Avenue, Jakarta, during 18th ASEAN Summit, Jakarta, 8 May 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MANILA/BEIJING (Reuters) – The Philippines accused China on Tuesday of violating an informal code of conduct in the South China Sea by planning new structures on a disputed shoal, as China’s premier told Southeast Asian leaders Beijing was serious about peace. Friction over the South China Sea, one of the world’s most important waterways, has surged as China uses its growing naval might to assert its vast claims over the oil- and gas-rich sea more forcefully, raising fears of a military clash. Four of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including Vietnam and the Philippines, have overlapping claims with China. China and the Philippines accuse each other of violating the Declaration of Conduct (DoC), a non-binding confidence-building agreement on maritime conduct signed by China and ASEAN in 2002. Philippines Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told a congressional budget hearing in Manila that China had violated the DoC by getting ready to build new structures on the disputed Scarborough Shoal. “We have … sighted concrete blocks inside the shoal which are a prelude to construction,” Gazmin said, displaying air surveillance photos of the rocks.

English: Muara, Brunei Darussalam (June 26, 20...

English: Muara, Brunei Darussalam (June 26, 2003) — The amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) gets underway for the at-sea portion of the weeklong Brunei phase of exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT). CARAT is a regularly scheduled series of bilateral military training exercises between the U.S. and several Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Harpers Ferry is forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Chuck Bell. (RELEASED) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Washington has not taken sides, but Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated in Brunei in July the U.S. strategic interest in freedom of navigation through the busy sea and its desire to see a Code of Conduct signed quickly. 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 the Code of Conduct. (Source: Reuters News 9/6/13)

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