Vientiane(Laos): Japan, Australia and the US on Tuesday urged China to recognise the ruling by The Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in favour of the Philippines over its South China Sea dispute with Beijing. In a joint statement, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and his Japanese and Australian counterparts, Fumio Kishide and Julie Bishop, who are set to attend multilateral meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) here on Tuesday, expressed their “strong support for the rule of law and called on China and the Philippines to abide by the Arbitral Tribunal’s Award of July 12 in the Philippines-China arbitration, which is final and legally binding on both parties,” EFE news reported.
The three ministers, who met in Laos’ capital city on Monday, defended freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea and criticized the construction of outposts and their use for military purposes in the area. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Asean counterparts had agreed in a joint statement on Monday to resolve the disputes through talks and sign as soon as possible a code of conduct to prevent conflicts.
In a press conference after the meeting, Wang reiterated China’s rejection of the decision of The Hague court and accused the court of acting under the influence of foreign forces. Wang added that the Asean ministers had assured him that the bloc will not take sides in the arbitration despite the Philippines being one of its founding members.
With this agreement, China had brought back the Asean to bilateral talks at the expense of multilateral negotiations, backed by the former Philippine government and the US.
Kerry, Fumio and Bishop also condemned the nuclear and missile tests conducted by North Korea in recent months and urged the Communist regime to comply with UN resolutions against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
They also urged Pyongyang to respect human rights and resolve the cases of abductions of Japanese, South Korean and Thai citizens, among others, by North Korean intelligence services.
Founded in 1967, Asean is composed of Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.