ASEAN Calls on North Korea to Halt Missile, Nuclear Tests

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ASEAN Calls on North Korea to Halt Missile, Nuclear Tests

Meeting Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono on the sidelines of a regional security forum in Manila on Monday, Wang urged Japan to respect the efforts of China and ASEAN countries and play a more constructive role for regional peace and stability.

Closeted in their annual gathering in Manila over the weekend, however, ASEAN foreign ministers wrangled over the tone and wordings to depict the territorial rifts involving China and five other governments in their joint statement, which unlike the chairman's statement is a negotiated document.

In July 2016, the arbitral tribunal in the Hague ruled that Beijing has no legal or historical basis for its nine-dash line, which demarcates its claims to nearly the entire South China Sea.

He called on partners and the worldwide community to continue the supporting efforts of ASEAN and China in negotiating a Code of Conduct in the East Sea.

Several ASEAN states, including the Philippines, have said they would prefer the CoC be legally binding. However, China unilaterally started work to build artificial islands and military facilities in that sea area, and this has prompted ASEAN to advocate devising a pertinent code of conduct at an early date.

While China is the most active in terms of building up the territories it controls, both the Philippines and Vietnam have begun to follow Beijing's lead.

The ministers underscored the importance of upholding the rules-based order, called on all states to respect freedom of navigation and overflight and other internationally lawful uses of the seas, and reiterated that the three countries will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever worldwide law allows.

At the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review in May, states parties expressed concern on a range of issues including the persecution of religious minorities and the LGBT community, as well as Indonesia's continued use of the death penalty.

In previous years, the Philippines joined Vietnam in strongly countering China's sweeping claims over nearly the entire South China Sea. This has delayed the expected release of an ASEAN communique today.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, and has heavily militarized some islands in the region and expanded other territories with major land reclamation work, turning sandbars into islands and equipping them with airfields, ports and weapons systems.

With the situation in the South China Sea having "stabilized remarkably", as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi noted on Sunday, Vietnam should look to the future and focus on the bigger picture.

The United States says it will be watching China closely to ensure it fully and continuously implements new U.N. sanctions on North Korea.

During a session with the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) at the bloc's annual Regional Forum on Friday, the Philippines emphasised the need to continue to promote human rights without politicising the issue. However, the initial roadmap doesn't say whether the code of conduct will be legally binding or enforceable. "If China opposes those actions, so be it".

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