China cites US, ASEAN pledge

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG YUNBI in Bei­jing zhangyunbi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Bei­jing hopes that com­mit­ments “will be honored by ac­tions” af­ter the United States and the lead­ers of South­east Asian na­tions pledged “non­mil­i­ta­riza­tion” in a joint state­ment fol­low­ing a two-day gath­er­ing.

US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama wrapped up his meet­ings with lead­ers of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions mem­ber states at Sun­ny­lands in Cal­i­for­nia on Tues­day, and a state­ment re­leased after­ward said they share a com­mit­ment to “non­mil­i­ta­riza­tion and self-re­straint in the con­duct of ac­tiv­i­ties”.

For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi said on Wed­nes­day that “China has taken no­tice” of the state­ment and hopes that the US and ASEAN coun­tries match their words with ac­tions.

Last month, ten­sion was stirred again in the South China Sea as a US Navy de­stroyer intruded in Chi­nese ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters off the Xisha Is­lands.

“Non-mil­i­ta­riza­tion serves the in­ter­ests of all par­ties. How­ever, non-mil­i­ta­riza­tion should not tar­get a sin­gle coun­try and should not be ap­plied with dou­ble or mul­ti­ple stan­dards,” Wang told a joint news con­fer­ence in Bei­jing on Wed­nes­day with his vis­it­ing Aus­tralian coun­ter­part, Julie Bishop.

“The non-mil­i­ta­riza­tion in the South China Sea needs joint ef­forts by rel­e­vant coun­tries in­side and out­side the re­gion,” Wang added.

Zhou Yongsheng, a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at China For­eign Affairs Univer­sity, said that the US has em­barked on the most fre­quent and the most provoca­tive mil­i­tary ac­tiv­i­ties in the South China Sea.

“The US has boosted war­ships pa­trolling in the South China Sea and made in­cur­sions into ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters of sov­er­eign states. … Such prac­tices ob­vi­ously have run against what it ad­vo­cates as ‘non-mil­i­ta­riza­tion’,” Zhou said.

Reuters said US of­fi­cials had been hop­ing to ar­rive at a com­mon po­si­tion on the South China Sea at the gath­er­ing. How­ever, not all ASEAN mem­bers agreed on how to han­dle dis­putes in the re­gion, it said.

Al­though the Philip­pines, an ASEAN mem­ber, is seek­ing in­ter­na­tional ar­bi­tra­tion against China over the South China Sea is­sue, the state­ment did not di­rectly name China.

For­eign Min­istry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day that “stand-alone coun­tries at­tempted to hype the South China Sea is­sue dur­ing this meet­ing, yet the ma­jor­ity of the ASEAN coun­tries did not agree”.

Ruan Zongze, vice-pres­i­dent of the China In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, said the US and the Philip­pines have long at­tempted to per­suade ASEAN to sup­port their uni­lat­eral claims, a move “not serv­ing the in­ter­ests of most ASEAN mem­bers”.

The state­ment on Tues­day in­di­cates that “most ASEAN mem­bers are not will­ing to take sides be­tween ma­jor coun­tries”, Ruan said.

The non-mil­i­ta­riza­tion in the South China Sea needs joint ef­forts by rel­e­vant coun­tries.”

Chen Weihua in Wash­ing­ton, DC, con­trib­uted to this story.

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