Indonesian soldiers killed in South China Sea exercise
Indonesian soldiers killed in South China Sea exercise
Toyota is among the firms backing the initiative
20 May, 2017, 01:30
Former Philippines president Benigno Aquino had taken a firm position against China's claims, but relations between the two countries have warmed considerably since last year's election of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has declined to confront China on the issue with the hope of being rewarded with aid and investment.
The Spratlys, which lie in one of the world's most significant maritime trade routes, are claimed by neighboring South China Sea countries Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Under the Philippines' chairmanship of ASEAN, China's relative bargaining position has clearly improved with the Southeast Asian grouping.
After officials met in Guiyang, capital of southwest China's Guizhou Province, China's foreign ministry said the framework had been agreed, although it gave no details of its contents.
Mr Roberts said within ASEAN, "the views of the stabiliser countries - Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia - are unfortunately being undermined by other views".
The Chinese state news said all parties agreed to "continue to implement the DOC and reaffirmed plans to solve disputes via negotiation, manage differences with a regional framework of regulations, deepen maritime cooperation, and move forward COC negotiation to safeguard peace and stability of the region".
China declared an air defense identification zone over a large section of the East China Sea in 2013, a move the USA called illegitimate and has refused to recognize. In the interim, China has angered rival claimants by seizing, expanding and militarizing islets and reefs in the Souh China Sea - transforming low-tide outcroppings into what have been dubbed "unsinkable aircraft carriers", all in apparent violation of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Anti-frogman rocket launcher defense systems have reportedly been installed on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands.
"Given that it's been 15 years to get to a draft, I'm not really holding my breath", he added.
Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada on Friday criticized an apparent drone flight linked to a Chinese government vessel that entered Japanese waters around the disputed islands in the East China Sea the previous day, describing it as "a violation of sovereignty".
China's government has also repeatedly asserted that it can do whatever it likes on what it says is its own territory.
China mined the unique form of natural gas hydrate, gas trapped in ice crystals, on the ocean floor 4,000 feet beneath the surface, the Chinese Geological Survey announced Thursday. "But if you force the issue, we will go to war".
India, along with the United States, has voiced its support for freedom of navigation in the South China Sea region, as foreign trade worth more than a trillion dollar moves through the disputed waters.
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