Tuesday, October 29, 2019

EAS leaders to focus on South China Sea situation in November Summit

South China Sea: Chinese violation of territorial sovereignty rising concer ASEAN 
South China Sea: Chinese violation of territorial sovereignty rising concern in ASEAN
South China Sea

South China Sea (SCS) situation in the backdrop of China’s aggression in Vanguard Bank -- the westernmost reef in the resource-rich Spratlys -- within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf will be in spotlight at the next East Asia Summit (EAS) that Bangkok is hosting early November.
It is incumbent upon hosts Thailand and ASEAN as a whole that South China Sea situation is mentioned in the declaration that will be issued at the 35th ASEAN Summit and 14th East Asia Summit that Bangkok is hosting between November 2 and 4.
The situation in SCS has been tense since this July due to China's belligerent approach vis-à-vis Vietnam and other claimants in SCS – Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei appear worried over Beijing’s actions as they might face burnt of Chinese action in future.
There are growing expectations that leaders at the EAS may raise the issue of current situation in EAS and call for restraint, respect to UNCLOS and Freedom of Navigation. It is understood that some leaders at EAS may also raise the impact of Chinese approach on their energy assets in the region. South China Sea will be definitely a key item on the agenda for EAS, according to persons who are familiar with the dynamics of the region.
In this context the leaders of EAS states will also like to raise the importance of rules-based order and its necessity and peaceful resolution of disputes. The Indian PM at the Summit is expected to focus on the importance of rules based order and Freedom of Navigation in the region. Experts said given India’s growing stature India should call China and ASEAN to build Code of Conduct as a effective tool to prevent conflict in the region, ask for recognition of the PCA verdict and call for solidarity with ASEAN and pitch for ASEAN centrality in the entire process.
In the second India-China informal summit near Chennai, India and China discussed the necessity of rules-based international order in the backdrop of BRI and Beijing's approach in the SCS.
         It is for no reason that Vietnam is taking a stronger stand. In July, the Chinese survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 and its heavily armed coastguard escorts began making passes through an oil block operated by Russian energy company Rosneft, Hanoi’s exploration partner in the area.
Chinese ships have violated sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction of Vietnam under United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), according to Vietnam. Vanguard Bank, the westernmost reef in the resource-rich Spratlys, sits within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, but Beijing says it falls within the “nine-dash line” it uses to claim sovereignty over more than 80 per cent of the SCS.
  The actions so far have violated Vietnam’s sovereignty under the International Law. The Vanguard Bank standoff represents the latest episode in the ongoing South China Sea (SCS) disputes, and signals Beijing’s unwillingness to adhere to the UNCLOS while continuing to base its claim to sovereign rights in the South China Sea on the so-called “nine-dash line.
   Beijing has been increasing its resource exploration efforts since 2016 in the South China Sea region in a bid to reduce its dependence on foreign suppliers for its crude oil. Beijing claims more than 80 per cent of the South China Sea, which holds an estimated 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 11 billion barrels of oil in proved and probable reserves.
As China shows no sign of giving up on its claim of sovereignty over the South China Sea by boosting its military presence in the region, and at least 27 artificial military outposts scattering from the Paracels to the Spatlys, there are fears that Chinese military could yet again increase pressure and presence in the Vanguard Bank zone from October.
While earlier India, USA, European Union, Australia and some regional powers have expressed concern over the situation in South China Sea and unilateral actions in the Vanguard Bank area, global powers including India which has huge stakes in ASEAN region must speak up and utilize upcoming platforms including EAS to voice concern over unilateral actions by China.
The resource-rich South China Sea is one of the region’s most dangerous flashpoints and Beijing – wary of freedom of navigation operations in the waterway by the US and its allies – has insisted that territorial disputes should be resolved between claimants.
The Joint Communique issued by ASEAN Foreign Minister also expressed concern over ‘serious incidents in the area’. The issue was further highlighted at other meetings including East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers Meetings. The international community has also viewed Chinese action as ‘escalation’.

Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com



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