Beijing welcomes Asean’s softer stand on S. China Sea – 3 May 2017

  • China on 2 May welcomed a softer stand taken by South-east Asian countries on the disputed South China Sea at a weekend summit, saying it showed efforts to ease tension were working.
  • The Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) dropped references to “land reclamation and militarisation” from its chairman’s statement in 2017 at the end of its summit in Manila. The reference had been included in 2016 and was even in an earlier, unpublished version of the statement seen by reporters.
  • Two regional diplomats said that in 2017, China had pressed Asean chair the Philippines to keep Beijing’s contentious activities in the strategic waterway off Asean’s official agenda. China is not a member of the 10-member bloc and did not attend the summit but it is extremely sensitive about the content of its statements.
  • Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang did not directly answer a question on whether China had exerted pressure over the statement. “Since 2016, with the joint efforts of China and Asean countries including the Philippines, temperatures in the South China Sea situation have gone down and things have eased up. I think this accords with the interests of countries in the region,” Mr Geng told a daily news briefing.
  • Philippine Foreign Ministry official Zaldy Patron, who is in charge of Asean affairs, said nobody at the summit had pushed strongly on the South China Sea issue, or mentioned anything about land reclamation and militarisation.

External Link :