Australia, Japan, US Call for South China Sea Code to be Legally Binding
Manila: Australia, Japan and the United States on Monday urged Southeast Asia and China to ensure that a South China Sea code of conduct they have committed to draw up will be legally binding and said they strongly opposed “coercive unilateral actions”. The Association of South East Asian Nations and China should establish a set of rules that were “legally binding, meaningful, effective, and consistent with international law”, the foreign ministers of the three countries said in a statement following a meeting in Manila. Forei g n minis - ters of Asean and China on Sunday adopted a negotiating framework for a code of conduct, a move they hailed as progress but seen by critics as a tactic to buy China time to consolidate its maritime power.
Australia, Japan and the United States also “voiced their strong opposition to coercive unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions”.
They urged claimants to refrain from land reclamation, construction of outposts and militarization of disputed features, a veiled reference to China’s expansion of its defence capability on Mischief, Fiery Cross and Subi reefs in the Spratly archipelago.
Australia, Japan and the US ‘voiced their strong opposition to coercive unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions’