US Vice President Wants Progress in Code of Conduct in the South China Sea

US Vice President Wants Progress in Code of Conduct in the South China Sea
US Vice President Mike Pence (left) with Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Presidential Palace, Singapore, November 16, 2018. Photo: AP

MPCore.us – US Vice President Mike Pence urged ASEAN to make progress in terms of its code of conduct for the South China Sea. But as ASEAN member countries already know, an agreement, which once seemed on the verge of completion, now faces a challenging three-year discussion period.

In a statement on Friday (16/11) to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Pence said countries in the region must be able to explore and build their own resources and navigate their own waters.

But this is difficult because China has outperformed four rival claimants in Southeast Asia through its rapid infrastructure expansion, partly for military purposes, on small artificial islands built by reclaiming land. Completion of the guideline also requires a longer time than originally thought, given the complexity of the sovereignty dispute.

China and Southeast Asian countries that have disputed sovereignty over the resource-rich sea in 2017 are confident that this year they will be able to pass the guidelines, which will explain ways to avoid accidents. The guidelines will reduce the likelihood of clashes, such as China-Vietnam deadly sea battles in the South China Sea in 1974 and 1988.

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