ASEAN会議 中国の国際法無視が目に余る [英字新聞]

The Yomiuri Shimbun
China’s disregard for international law glaringly apparent at ASEAN
ASEAN会議 中国の国際法無視が目に余る

Beijing continues to reject the court of arbitration’s decision dismissing the country’s self-serving claims that its sovereignty covers almost all the area in the South China Sea. We believe such a high-handed stance can never be accepted.

Foreign ministers gathered for meetings of the East Asia Summit — Japan, the United States, China and Southeast Asian countries are among the members — and the ASEAN Regional Forum.

Regarding Beijing’s moves to militarize the South China Sea, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for China to respect the ruling, saying, “It is an arbitration, the results of which ... is legally binding.”

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida followed suit, stressing, “Parties concerned should comply with the court of arbitration, which will contribute to solving the issue.”

It is crucial for Japan, the United States and other countries concerned to work together to keep urging China to abide by the ruling.

During a meeting with Kishida, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called for Japan to be discreet in word and deed because Tokyo is “not a party concerned in the South China Sea issue.” This cannot be overlooked.

It is nothing less than in the common interest of the international community to maintain order in the South China Sea based on the rule of law, and ensure freedom of navigation. We regard Wang’s claims as unreasonable.

Following the ruling, Beijing announced that it had sent new bombers on patrol around the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, which is close to the Philippines. The country said it will regularly conduct such missions, and has also expressed a policy to continue building artificial islands in the area. A series of such moves will only heighten tension.

Apparent maneuver

Ahead of the EAS meeting, foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations issued a joint statement at their gathering, which said they “remain seriously concerned” over current developments in the South China Sea. The document failed to directly refer to the ruling because of strong opposition from Cambodia, which receives huge amounts of economic assistance from China.

“Only one country mentioned the court of arbitration during this meeting,” Wang said, with an eye on the Philippines. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s administration, which suffered a serious diplomatic setback from the ruling, apparently believed that it was able to regain lost ground by splitting ASEAN members.

We suspect that China is also drawing up a scenario to woo the Philippines, which has just undergone a change of administration, to set aside the ruling and hold talks.

Wang announced that China had set a target of completing the establishment of a code of conduct with ASEAN — which would legally bind moves by countries concerned in the South China Sea — by the first half of next year. Beijing’s reluctance has so far hampered talks on the envisioned set of rules between the two sides.

China presented the target apparently with the aim of fending off criticism from ASEAN. We cannot believe that China, which disregards international law, will seriously engage in the establishment of multinational rules. Countries concerned should beef up pressure on China to give the code of conduct more teeth.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 27, 2016)

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