Pitfalls for ASEAN in Negotiating a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea
Ha, Hoang Thi | July 2019
Over the past two decades, developing a code of conduct (COC) for the parties in the South China Sea (SCS) appears to be the end-goal of the longstanding ASEAN-China discourse on the SCS. It was the original objective of ASEAN’s engagement with China on the SCS in the late 1990s, which led to the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in 2002. After the decade-long impasse regarding the DOC implementation guidelines was cleared in 2011, ASEAN member states and China embarked on official consultations on the COC in September 2013. From 2013 to 2016, the consultations only focused on accumulating commonalities and discussing procedural matters. Beginning from mid-2017, China shifted gear and adopted a more forward-leaning approach towards the COC, encouraged by the Philippines’ decision under the Duterte administration to play down the 2016 arbitration ruling and ASEAN’s meek response to the ruling itself. This paved the way for the adoption of the Framework of the COC in August 2017 and the Single Draft Negotiating Text (SDNT) in June 2018. This article examines some potential pitfalls for ASEAN in the COC negotiations, and argues that the diplomatic progress in the COC process should not distract and divert ASEAN’s attention from the continuing problems at sea.
CitationHa, Hoang Thi. 2019. Pitfalls for ASEAN in Negotiating a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. © ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute. http://hdl.handle.net/11540/11007.
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