COC for South China Sea should be expedited to ensure security and stability

KUALA LUMPUR: Asean member states should expedite the Code of Conduct (CoC) that they have been working on for the best interest of all parties involved in the South China Sea disputes. The CoC could help thwart any incident that could jeopardise the region’s security and stability. Of late, finalising the CoC appears to be of great importance not only in ensuring South China Sea remains a neutral and safe place for all, but also in safeguarding the interest of the littoral states that are also members of Asean. The continuous encroachment of Chinese ships and aircraft in the waters and the rise of a new security pact involving Australia-UK-United States (Aukus) that also involves the sea of contention will definitely contribute to rising tensions in the region. According to South China Sea Expert Working Group, the Asean-China CoC can articulate and clarify aspects of the international rules-based order as applied to the South China Sea and establish important rules and processes for managing tensions pending the eventual settlement of disputes. Geostrategist Prof Dr Azmi Hassan believes that the CoC could help put to a stop to the encroachments in South China Sea, especially in Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The EEZ Malaysia 1984 Act stipulates that any foreign assets including warships and research vessels need prior permission before entering the country’s EEZ. However, this law has been disregarded openly by China. “China claims it is international waters and therefore it has the right to “freedom of navigation”. Nonetheless, we have our own laws in protecting our EEZ,” he said to Bernama. EEZ refers to the maritime zone extending up to 200 nautical miles from the shores of the littoral nation. Under United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the littoral nations have the special rights in exploring and utilising the marine resources within the zone. Dr Azmi said this referring to the latest encroachment incident involving Chinese vessels, including research vessels, within Malaysia’s EEZ off the waters of Sabah and Sarawak. Following the incident, Malaysian Foreign Ministry (Wisma Putra) in a statement on Monday said it had summoned the Chinese ambassador to convey Malaysia’s position and protest against the presence and activities of Chinese vessels within its EEZ. It is the second time the same ambassador was summoned so far this year after the country’s ships and planes had encroached into the country’s waters and airspace respectively, with the first one on June 3 when 16 Chinese air force planes flew over the nation’s EEZ, near Beting Pattingi Ali, within Sarawak waters. However, these incursions are just the tip of the iceberg. In July 2020 the Malaysian Auditor-General’s Report revealed Chinese coast guard and navy ships had encroached into Malaysian waters in the South China Sea 89 times between 2016 and 2019. Therefore, Azmi said ASEAN nations have to cooperate effectively in ensuring the CoC can be expedited and finalised. “COC must be formalised as soon as possible and Asean need to push for it,” he said. Meanwhile, Senior Lecturer at University Malaya’s International and Strategic Studies Department Dr Roy Anthony Rogers Peter Rogers states that Malaysia, and other Asean nations as well, should continue to voice their concerns to Beijing on the contentious matter. China’s encroachment is motivated by its territorial claim in South China Sea based on the ‘Nine Dash Line’. “As for China, they want to show their will and strength. However, as a developing nation Malaysia should utilise the diplomatic channels inline with international laws like UNCLOS 1982 and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961,” he said. However, he said, China should realise their encroachments into the EEZ of other nations in South China Sea is unacceptable “If they (China) continue with the same attitude, as time goes by Southeast Asian nations like Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, including Malaysia may have to take side with Aukus to balance up with China. This is out of desperation,” he said to Bernama. Analysts view Aukus, announced by US president Joe Biden on Sept 15, as a move to contain China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific but it is feared that Aukus may contribute to geopolitical tensions and draw the US-China rivalry to the region. “Therefore, we cannot depend on military solution but on the CoC for South China Sea,” said Roy Anthony Rogers. Territorial claims at the strategic South China Sea pits China and Taiwan with four Asean member states - Brunei, Malaysia, the Phillippines, and Vietnam. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was reported saying at the 52 Asean Foreign Minister’s meeting in Bangkok in August 2019, that Asean and China had completed the first reading of the draft text of the CoC on South China Sea and he expected the CoC to be finalised within three years. However, the Covid-19 pandemic that struck the world since early 2020 had delayed the p

COC for South China Sea should be expedited to ensure security and stability

KUALA LUMPUR: Asean member states should expedite the Code of Conduct (CoC) that they have been working on for the best interest of all parties involved in the South China Sea disputes.

The CoC could help thwart any incident that could jeopardise the region’s security and stability.

Of late, finalising the CoC appears to be of great importance not only in ensuring South China Sea remains a neutral and safe place for all, but also in safeguarding the interest of the littoral states that are also members of Asean.

The continuous encroachment of Chinese ships and aircraft in the waters and the rise of a new security pact involving Australia-UK-United States (Aukus) that also involves the sea of contention will definitely contribute to rising tensions in the region.

According to South China Sea Expert Working Group, the Asean-China CoC can articulate and clarify aspects of the international rules-based order as applied to the South China Sea and establish important rules and processes for managing tensions pending the eventual settlement of disputes.

Geostrategist Prof Dr Azmi Hassan believes that the CoC could help put to a stop to the encroachments in South China Sea, especially in Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The EEZ Malaysia 1984 Act stipulates that any foreign assets including warships and research vessels need prior permission before entering the country’s EEZ. However, this law has been disregarded openly by China.

“China claims it is international waters and therefore it has the right to “freedom of navigation”. Nonetheless, we have our own laws in protecting our EEZ,” he said to Bernama.

EEZ refers to the maritime zone extending up to 200 nautical miles from the shores of the littoral nation. Under United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the littoral nations have the special rights in exploring and utilising the marine resources within the zone.

Dr Azmi said this referring to the latest encroachment incident involving Chinese vessels, including research vessels, within Malaysia’s EEZ off the waters of Sabah and Sarawak.

Following the incident, Malaysian Foreign Ministry (Wisma Putra) in a statement on Monday said it had summoned the Chinese ambassador to convey Malaysia’s position and protest against the presence and activities of Chinese vessels within its EEZ.

It is the second time the same ambassador was summoned so far this year after the country’s ships and planes had encroached into the country’s waters and airspace respectively, with the first one on June 3 when 16 Chinese air force planes flew over the nation’s EEZ, near Beting Pattingi Ali, within Sarawak waters.

However, these incursions are just the tip of the iceberg. In July 2020 the Malaysian Auditor-General’s Report revealed Chinese coast guard and navy ships had encroached into Malaysian waters in the South China Sea 89 times between 2016 and 2019.

Therefore, Azmi said ASEAN nations have to cooperate effectively in ensuring the CoC can be expedited and finalised.

“COC must be formalised as soon as possible and Asean need to push for it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senior Lecturer at University Malaya’s International and Strategic Studies Department Dr Roy Anthony Rogers Peter Rogers states that Malaysia, and other Asean nations as well, should continue to voice their concerns to Beijing on the contentious matter.

China’s encroachment is motivated by its territorial claim in South China Sea based on the ‘Nine Dash Line’.

“As for China, they want to show their will and strength. However, as a developing nation Malaysia should utilise the diplomatic channels inline with international laws like UNCLOS 1982 and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961,” he said.

However, he said, China should realise their encroachments into the EEZ of other nations in South China Sea is unacceptable

“If they (China) continue with the same attitude, as time goes by Southeast Asian nations like Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, including Malaysia may have to take side with Aukus to balance up with China. This is out of desperation,” he said to Bernama.

Analysts view Aukus, announced by US president Joe Biden on Sept 15, as a move to contain China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific but it is feared that Aukus may contribute to geopolitical tensions and draw the US-China rivalry to the region.

“Therefore, we cannot depend on military solution but on the CoC for South China Sea,” said Roy Anthony Rogers.

Territorial claims at the strategic South China Sea pits China and Taiwan with four Asean member states - Brunei, Malaysia, the Phillippines, and Vietnam.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was reported saying at the 52 Asean Foreign Minister’s meeting in Bangkok in August 2019, that Asean and China had completed the first reading of the draft text of the CoC on South China Sea and he expected the CoC to be finalised within three years.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic that struck the world since early 2020 had delayed the progress.

-Bernama