China ‘agrees’ to immediate peace in S. China Sea
China and four ASEAN countries with overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea have expressed a commitment to keep the peace in the disputed Spratly and Paracel Islands.
The commitment was made in front of delegates to the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) at a meeting in Surabaya, East Java.
Indonesia, which holds ASEAN’s rotating chair, is hosting the ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting, a preparatory ARF meeting and other related meetings in Surabaya until Saturday.
“China has conveyed its own commitment to peace, so have the other four countries. Other countries also urged the immediate implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties [DOC] on the South China Sea,” Defense Ministry secretary-general Vice Marshal Eris Herryanto told reporters in Surabaya on Wednesday.
Foreign Ministry director general for ASEAN cooperation Djauhari Oratmangun said China conveyed its intention to resolve the South China Sea issues peacefully during the Senior Officals’ Meeting, and that a majority of ARF’s 26 members were urging an immediate settlement of the disputes.
The ARF is comprised of the 10 ASEAN member nations; 10 ASEAN dialogue partners, including Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea and the United States; one ASEAN observer, Papua New Guinea; and Bangladesh, Timor Leste, Mongolia, North Korea, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
“[One] way to settle the disputes in the South China Sea is by expediting the implementation of the DOC.” Eris said.
China, four ASEAN countries and Taiwan have claimed all or part of the Spratly and Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, leading to standoffs between the Asian giant and the four ASEAN member states.
The oil and natural gas reserves in the Spratly region have been estimated to top 17.7 billion tons, making it the world’s fourth-largest reserve bed. China’s claim by far is the largest, comprising a vast U-shape over most of the sea’s 1.7 million square kilometers, including the Spratly and Paracel Islands.
Incidents have become more frequent as China has despatched its navy to patrol the area and began building up military facilities within its claimed territory.
Chinese patrol boats have recently harassed Vietnamese ships looking for oil and driven Filipino fishermen away.