from Asia Unbound

ASEAN, China, and the Lasting Divisions Over the South China Sea

August 21, 2017

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi links arms with ASEAN Foreign Ministers during the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting and its dialogue partners in Manila, Philippines on August 6, 2017. Aaron Favila/Reuters
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South China Sea

Following the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) foreign ministers meeting earlier this month in Manila, China and Southeast Asian nations announced that they had agreed on a framework for negotiating a code of conduct in the South China Sea. In theory, a code of conduct would set guidelines on activities allowed in the Sea, including militarization and land reclamation. Both Philippine and Chinese leaders touted the adoption of a framework as a serious step toward reducing tensions in the South China Sea. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also announced that Beijing would be willing to launch negotiations about a code in November.

Yet although the two sides have agreed on a framework, it will be almost impossible for Beijing to get ASEAN nations to agree to an actual code of conduct. For more on why a code is unlikely any time soon, see my new article for World Politics Review.

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