China sets conditions for start of talks on sea feud code

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A North Korean flag flies alongside those of other Asean countries and dialogue partners outside the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila, where Asean foreign ministers are meeting this weekend.

The Philippines, which had been the most vocal Southeast Asian state to protest Beijing's claims in the South China Sea, won an worldwide arbitration case a year ago that effectively invalidated China's claims.

Accusations of U.S. involvement in the statement began nearly immediately, with Cambodia (often acting as a proxy for China in the organisation) reportedly stalling.

"The final framework of the COC brings stability to the South China Sea, thus demonstrating a positive momentum".

If the arrival of Tillerson in the region was meant to indicate a renewed interest in Southeast Asia for the Trump administration, the bloc's statement on the South China Sea indicates it may well be too late.

In a meeting with North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho, Wang said he told his counterpart 'not to violate the United Nations decision or provoke the global community's goodwill by conducting missile launches or nuclear tests.

Its sweeping claims overlap with those of Asean members Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

China's territorial disputes in the strategic and potentially oil- and gas-rich waterway with five other governments intensified after it built islands in disputed waters and reportedly started to install a missile defense system on them, alarming rival claimant states, the U.S. and other Western governments.

The story ASEAN "framework" on South China Sea tiptoes around the real issue first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

According to a copy of a draft obtained by AFP, Vietnam lobbied for ASEAN to express serious concern over "construction" in the sea, in reference to China's ramped up building of artificial islands in the disputed waters in recent years.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says he urged his North Korean counterpart to abide by United Nations resolutions and stop provoking "the global community's goodwill" with missile launches and nuclear tests.

'It is not easy, but it is a direction that we need to work together towards, ' he said.

To convene a meeting at the end of August "to discuss the modalities for the negotiations of the actual Code of Conduct, with the approved framework as the basis for the talks".

But ASEAN has again shown its inability to make progress on a robust code of conduct for the disputed waters that is legally binding on China and the ASEAN members, analysts say.

In a joint communiqué of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting issued on Sunday, they urged claimants and all other states to avoid actions, including those mentioned in the declaration on the conduct (DOC) of parties, that could further complicate the situation and escalate tensions in the area.

Senior US envoy Susan Thornton said Washington was "still going to be watchful" on the implementation of sanctions, cautioning that previous votes had been followed by China "slipping back".

China is the North's economic lifeline.

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