Wang Yi says South China Sea not a ‘fighting arena’ for great power games
- Chinese foreign minister calls on Southeast Asian countries to resist involvement of ‘certain external powers’ in regional disputes
- The remarks come as military tensions with the US and its allies grow over naval exercises in the area
Wang accused “some certain external powers” of “deliberately expanding conflicts and provoking tensions, jeopardising the legitimate rights and interests of coastal countries and the normal order of the sea”.
“To that, China and Asean countries should make our positions clear: if you come for peace and cooperation, we welcome you; if you come for disruption and destruction, please leave!” Wang said.
Wang’s remarks came as military tensions in the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest waterways, continued to grow between China and the US and its allies.
Beijing has long insisted disputes should be solved between regional claimants and that external powers must stay out of South China Sea issues.
Wang praised the DOC for representing the values of “East Asian culture”, such as an emphasis on consensus and accommodating the comfort of all parties. The “bottom line of peace” must be defended, and “any words or actions that create tension and provoke confrontation in the region” must be strongly opposed, he said.
The DOC, signed in Cambodia in November 2002, calls on all parties to peacefully handle South China Sea disputes “with restraint” through dialogue and consultation in accordance with international law. But the document has not resolved any territorial disputes.
As a follow-up step, China and Asean have been discussing a legally binding code of conduct to implement the DOC’s principles. They drafted a negotiating text in 2018 and finished a first review in 2019. However, consultations have made little progress since then and failed to meet a proposed finalisation deadline at the end of 2021.
In his speech, Wang called for a speeding up of negotiations to provide stronger institutional safeguards for managing differences and promoting cooperation.