ASEAN, China dis­cuss dis­pute ‘hot­line’

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

ASEAN and China are dis­cussing set­ting up a “hot­line” in case of an emer­gency re­gard­ing the ter­ri­to­rial dis­pute over the South China Sea, a Philip­pine of­fi­cial said on Sun­day.

The pro­posed hot­line was dis­cussed dur­ing a meet­ing of se­nior diplo­mats from China and ASEAN, the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions, in Tian­jin last week, said for­eign depart­ment spokesman Charles Jose.

Jose, whose coun­try is one of the most vo­cal in the sim­mer- ing dis­pute over the flash­point wa­ters, said the mat­ter had been re­ferred back to a joint work­ing group and was still far from fruition.

“Although this was agreed in prin­ci­ple as an early harvest mea­sure, it needs thor­ough dis­cus­sion,” he said in a state­ment to AFP.

He stressed the hot­line would not be un­veiled at an up­com­ing meet­ing of ASEAN for­eign min­is­ters.

The Philip­pines and fel­low ASEAN mem­bers Brunei, Malay- sia and Viet­nam have com­pet­ing claims over the South China Sea along with China and Tai­wan.

The dis­pute has grown in­creas­ingly tense in re­cent years with the Philip­pines at the fore­front of ac­cus­ing China of “bul­ly­ing” in as­sert­ing its claim over the wa­ters which are a cru­cial sea lane and fish­ing ground also be­lieved to hold vast min­eral re­sources.

In re­cent months, the Philip­pines has raised the alarm over China’s land recla­ma­tion to turn out­crop­pings in the sea into ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands that can host mil­i­tary out­posts.

ASEAN, which also in­cludes In­done­sia, Cam­bo­dia, Laos, Myan­mar, Sin­ga­pore and Thai­land, has been push­ing for the es­tab­lish­ment of a “code of con­duct” with China that would bind the ri­val claimants not to take ac­tions that could spark con­flict in the re­gion.

De­spite its ap­peals for unity, ASEAN mem­bers have di­verg­ing agen­das, and the bloc has had dif­fi­culty tak­ing a com­mon stand on China which has close re­la­tion­ships with sev­eral mem­bers.

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