South China Sea Treaty Needed to Keep Peace, Experts Say

Security and diplomatic analysts say the Chinese regime and its Southeast Asian neighbors must take on a binding legal agreement to prevent conflict in the disputed South China Sea.

Speaking at an international conference on the South China Sea in Manila on Tuesday, the experts believe a treaty will help prevent conflict.

The South China Sea Studies director from the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam supports an inclusive code of conduct.

[Dr. Tran Truong Thuy, South China Sea Studies Director]:
“We need a more binding code of conduct to regulate the activity of countries in the South China Sea. And the code of conduct have to be, cover every activity of every user in the South China Sea, not only claimant state, but also of other users in the South China Sea.”

Last week, an Australian think tank warned the unresolved sea disputes could lead to war in Asia.

Politics professor and Southeast Asia expert Carlyle Thayer says the situation is critical.

[Prof. Carlyle Thayer, University of New South Wales-Australia]:
“I’m saying that the situation is urgent now because if it’s left unaddressed, we’re likely to see skirmishes at sea.”

Thayer says China and the ASEAN countries must decide on an agreement.

[Prof. Carlyle Thayer, University of New South Wales-Australia]:
“China then has to decide. Does it really want a rules-based system, or does it want its own rules? And now, all of a sudden, its political influence in Southeast Asia is being forced. Do you want to co-operate with ASEAN or do you want to mess them around?”

Filipino President Benigno Aquino calls for a fair and peaceful solution.

[Benigno Aquino, Philippine President]:
“No one wants conflict, but it also doesn’t mean that we will just let ourselves be cowed by bigger countries.”

The Philippine foreign minister is expected to raise the issue when he visits China this week.

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