U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday urged Southeast Asian nations to rethink company deals with all the 24 Chinese businesses and people that Washington declared last month due to their functions in building Beijing’s artificial islands in the South China Sea.
The Chinese fledgling firms strong-arm coastal Southeast Asian countries from the contested waterway and these states will need to actively maintain territorial integrity, Pompeo stated at an internet meeting with foreign ministers from the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“Reconsider company dealings with the Exact state-owned Businesses that frighten ASEAN coastal countries from the South China Sea,” said the top American diplomat in the Yearly assembly
“Do not just talk, but behave. … Do not allow the Chinese Communist Party walk and our people.”
Pompeo farther said that China does not honor values enshrined in the ASEAN charter, although the U.S. does encourage Southeast Asian countries’ sovereignty and expansion.
“Beijing does not honor the basic democratic values of these enshrined in the ASEAN charter: liberty, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity. Now I say keep moving,” Pompeo explained.
“You ought to have assurance that America is here to help you as we’ve been for the previous three and a half a year.”
As many as 24 Chinese companies and individuals were put on a record of sanctions from the U.S. on Aug. 26 for exactly what Washington stated is their participation in reclamation actions in the South China Sea. Pompeo stated last month the sanctioned businesses and people have been involved in China’s extensive dredging effort in the waterway.
Especially, ASEAN member the Philippines said earlier it will not cut business ties with the Chinese companies Washington has blacklisted.
The Philippine government said that it might use these Chinese firms since it’s in the”national interest” to finish flagship infrastructure projects in the nation between these companies, stated Harry Roque, spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We aren’t a vassal state of any international power and we’re going to pursue our national interest,” Roque said. “[T]he president has been clear, he won’t comply with the directive of the Americans since we’re a free and independent nation, and we want Chinese investments”
Beijing, for its part, accused the U.S. of continued to intervene in the South China Sea.
On Wednesday, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi known as the U.S. that the”largest catalyst of militarization of the South China Sea,” Chinese press reported.
“The United States has become the most damaging factor damaging serenity in the South China Sea,” Wang said in the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
“Peace and stability are China’s biggest strategic interest from the South China Sea,” he stated, adding that those characteristics would be the typical strategic aspiration of both China and ASEAN.
“China expects that nations outside the area, such as the USA, will fully honor the wishes and expectations of all nations in the area, rather than creating tension and seeking gain from it”
China asserts the majority of the South China Sea, stating it’s”historical rights” into the waterway, in which it’s been constructing military installations and artificial islands since Beijing expands the footprint of its own armed forces from the contested marine area. China’s claims are demarcated with a so-called nine-dash lineup that seems on Chinese maps.
Tensions in the area have been climbing because Pompeo’s announcement in July the Beijing’s claims to the South China Sea are prohibited. Washington, he explained at the moment, stands with its Southeast Asian allies”in safeguarding their rights to offshore sources ”
Along with China and Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam have territorial claims in the South China Sea. While Indonesia doesn’t regard itself party to the South China Sea dispute, Beijing maintains historical rights to elements of the sea overlapping Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone.
Most ASEAN members state they’re caught in the center of the spat between Beijing and Washington.
On Wednesday, the launching of the ASEAN meeting, Indonesia and Vietnam stated the South China Sea dispute threatens regional stability and countries should repay the acrimonious row by adhering to international authorities, such as the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or even UNCLOS.
However, on Thursday, Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh stated the ASEAN-U.S. connection”has attracted about mutual advantage to both sides,” according to this Associated Press.
“The U.S. function and contribution to preserving peace, stability, and safety in the area are invited,” he explained.
ASEAN Joint Communique
The joint communique of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting, released Thursday, also highlights the South China Sea issue.
The consensus document from the summit, held Wednesday, expresses concern over raised worries in the disputed waters and supports the requirement for freedom of navigation and overflight.
“We highlighted the significance of non-militarization and self-restraint from the conduct of activities by claimants and the rest of the nations,” the communique states.
“We reaffirmed the requirement to pursue peaceful settlement of disputes based on the universally accepted principles of worldwide law, such as the 1982 UNCLOS.”
China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea were struck in a landmark 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration judgment, as judges discovered China’s claims did not hold up under UNCLOS.
ASEAN member nations like Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines have emphasized UNCLOS and the 2016 judgment when talking the South China Sea issue in recent months.
Meanwhile, this year’s communique almost did not mention UNCLOS, stated Aaron Connelly, a research fellow in the Britain and Singapore-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.
“There was an early suggestion from Laos to eliminate any reference to UNCLOS, which has been rejected by ASEAN,” Connelly told Radio Free Asia, a sister thing of BenarNews.
He explained a previous negotiating text that he had knowledge about, also stated there was a debate over the wording around UNCLOS that temporarily held the communique.
Code of Conduct tussle
This year’s joint communique also recognized the”advancement of purposeful negotiations toward the premature conclusion of a successful and purposeful Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (CoC) consistent with international law, such as the 1982 UNCLOS, in a mutually agreed deadline.”
In 2002, ASEAN member-states signed a Declaration of Conduct with China, expressing their willingness to settle disputes within the South China Sea.
Close to two years later, the team and China haven’t managed to agree to a follow-on record — known as the Code of Conduct, or CoC — which would obviously set out principles for how claimants in the South China Sea should act.
Connelly stated some ASEAN members were unhappy with all the communique’s optimistic announcement on the CoC.
“China place plenty of strain on ASEAN member-states to produce a statement about progress to the CoC, though there has not been some progress since this past year,” Connelly said. “If you read between the lines you’ll be able to view some dissatisfaction among member-states about the absence of advancement.”
Though the communique doesn’t cite when discussions on the CoC will restart, Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin, Jr. said throughout the ASEAN meeting on Wednesday that talks could resume”no further than” November, Bloomberg News reported.
“ASEAN is enabling China to save a little face but which makes it quite obvious that it is unhappy about the present condition of affairs,” Connelly said.
Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news services.