JAKARTA, Indonesia — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is firm that the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) should be followed with regards to the South China Sea territorial disputes, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said Tuesday.
Asked during the 7th ASEAN Media Forum regarding the collision between the Philippine and China vessels in the West Philippine Sea, Marsudi said they are monitoring the situation very closely.
Indonesia is the ASEAN chairman for 2023.
“We closely monitor the situation right now in the South China Sea and I think the position of ASEAN is very clear, crystal clear: That UNCLOS 1982 should be prioritized when it comes about South China Sea,” Marsudi said.
“And the position of Indonesia is crystal clear, that everyone, every country should adopt and implement UNCLOS 1982,” she added.
Marsudi noted that the ASEAN is still in the process of negotiating with China to finalize the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
“On the situation of the South China Sea, of course, South China Sea is in our region, we are now negotiating the Code of Conduct. Hopefully we will be able to finalize it soon but not only a fast, quick negotiation but also a substantial negotiation,” she said.
“So we do hope when we finalize the negotiation, the situation on the South China Sea will be more conducive,” she added.
Early this month, a China Coast Guard vessel collided with an Armed Forces of the Philippines-contracted boat going to the Ayungin Shoal to deliver food and other supplies to grounded Philippine warship BRP Sierra Madre.
The Philippines maintains a small navy personnel on BRP Sierra Madre to guard the shoal, which is located 105.77 nautical miles from the nearest Philippine province of Palawan and constitutes part of the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf as provided under a United Nations convention.
Several near-collisions with Chinese ships and other dangerous maneuvers by its coast guard against Filipino vessels have occurred during routine Philippine resupply missions to the shoal, which is being claimed by China as part of its territory.
The incident was the first time Philippine officials reported that a Filipino resupply boat was rammed by a Chinese ship. No Filipino crew member was injured.
Manila responded to the collision by condemning “in the strongest degree” the “dangerous blocking maneuvers” of the Chinese vessel.
Blaming the Philippines for the collision, China denied Manila’s allegations, saying the supply vessel “trespassed” into Chinese waters “without authorization” despite repeated radio warnings to leave.
China insists that the shoal, which it calls Ren’ai Reef, is part of China’s Nansha Islands or what the Philippines refers to as Spratly Islands.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has ordered the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to conduct an investigation into the collision.
The Philippine Foreign Affairs Department also summoned the Chinese ambassador to the Philippines about the incident and filed a strongly-worded diplomatic protest enumerating the CGC’s violations.
In response to Manila’s summon and protest, Chinese Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Zhou Zhiyong said he conveyed “strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition of the Chinese side to the Philippine side over its vessels’ intrusion over its so-called waters.” —KBK, GMA Integrated News
Source: GMA Network