ASEAN Current Affairs

China, ASEAN Countries Agree on Framework for South China Sea Code of Conduct

China and the 10 member of the ASEAN grouping have agreed to a framework of a legally binding code of conduct aimed at preventing disputes in the strategic South China Sea. Though the draft of the framework has been finalised, no details about the text of the framework agreement has been released. Also, no date has been given on which the full code of conduct is set to be adopted by the parties. However, all the parties have agreed to continue to constructively advance the negotiations and work towards the early conclusion of the code of conduct.

Background

China and the ASEAN members had committed to sign a code of conduct around 15 years ago. But the pace of the negotiations was slow as China claimed the South China in its entirety. ASEAN members like Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei also maintain claims in the South China Sea. In the absence of the code of conduct, each country followed a separate document called the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), which has a provision committing parties to explore ways to build trust and confidence based on the principles of equality and mutual respect. Last year, China was enraged by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in Hague, the Netherlands, which in its ruling has rejected China’s claims to economic rights across large swathes of South China Sea in a case brought by the Philippines.

10 ASEAN Members: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

South China Sea

South China Sea is part of Pacific Ocean spreading an area of some 35 lakh square km with eight littoral countries / territories viz. China, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore and Vietnam. It is strategically located in the international shipping route that sees the passage of world’s half of the merchant ships. The sea is rich in energy reserves including petroleum, mineral and fishing resources. It is made of some 200 tiny islands, coral reefs, shoals, sandbanks etc. grouped into three archipelagos of Spratlys, Paracels and Pratas. The Macclesfield Bank and Scarborough Shoal are also part of South China Sea. Several countries have made competing territorial claims over the South China Sea. Such disputes have been regarded as Asia’s most potentially dangerous point of conflict.

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2016 ASEAN Summit held in Vientiane, Laos

The 28th and 29th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit was held in Vientiane, Laos from 6th to 8th September 2016.

Prime Minister of the Lao PDR H.E. Thongloun Sisoulith was Chairperson of the summit. The theme of the summit was “Turning Vision into Reality for a Dynamic ASEAN Community”.

The summit was attended by the leaders of all 10-member nations of ASEAN viz. Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Lao PDR (host), , Vietnam,  Myanmar and Cambodia.

India-ASEAN

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi had represented India at the ASEAN summit at the 14th ASEAN-India summit.
  • ASEAN-India adopted a document aiming at politically cohesive, economically integrated, socially responsible and people oriented people centered ASEAN-India Community.
  • The document recognizes the vital importance of the planned review of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods (AITIG) Agreement.
  • It seeks to ensure that the agreement is trade-facilitative and remains relevant to the current global trading practices.
  • The document also emphasizes the importance of maintaining peace, security and stability, unimpeded commerce, freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed deep concern over the rising export of terror in an apparent reference to Pakistan.
  • He also mentioned that export of terror is common security threat to the region and there was need for a coordinated response from the ASEAN member nations to combat it.

About Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)

  • ASEAN is a group of 10 South Asian nations which came into existence on August 8, 1967 after ASEAN declaration (also known as Bangkok declaration).
  • It is a regional organisation comprising that aims to promote intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic integration amongst its members.
  • Principal aims: (i) Accelerating economic growth, social progress, and sociocultural evolution among its members, (ii) Protection of regional stability and the provision of a mechanism for member countries to resolve differences peacefully.
  • Motto: “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”
  • 10 Members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Founder countries of ASEAN: Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines and Thailand
  • Enlargement: The group was expanded by adding 5 more nations which are Brunei Darussalam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam. Cambodia was the last entrant added in the group in 1999.

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