Edited and translated by Zhang Qian, People's Daily Online
From September 14 to 15, he Sixth China-ASEAN Senior Officials’Meeting was held in Suzhou, an economic powerhouse in east China’s Jiangsu province. The meeting involved consultation on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea under the framework of thorough implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).
The difference between this meeting and past discussions is that this was the first time that all the parties had held consultations about the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) in the context of the implementation of the "declaration" , as well as exchanging views on the effective overall implementation of the declaration and stressing issues such as maritime cooperation.
The positive significance of the formulation of the South China Sea Code of Conduct lies in the fact that China and the ASEAN countries are able to take this opportunity for further communication and preparation for the next step. But one ASEAN country has set too much expectation on the negotiations, aiming for a breakthrough at the meeting that will overcome all obstacles and solve all existing problems at the stage of setting the guidelines, even suggesting that the code of conduct be signed directly.
Behind this unrealistic expectation is an ulterior purpose.
Firstly, the Philippines are trying to exploit the South China Sea code of conduct to interfere with China's legitimate interests. According to the declaration, we should make efforts to sign the code of conduct "on the basis of the consensus of the parties involved”. The Philippines, irrespective of this requirement for consensus, appear determined to impose conditions on the other ASEAN countries and China that serve exclusively their own purposes and position.
Secondly, other countries too are trying to solve their sovereignty disputes with China through the South China Sea Code of Conduct.
Thirdly, the expectation of proceeding to the designated destination at one constant pace is impractical. Before the meeting, facts were distorted in order to create a viewpoint that China is deliberately trying to engineer failure in the consultation, and that the responsibility for any lack of progress during the meeting lies with China.
At present, the main problem faced by the South China Sea code of conduct lies in the fact that certain countries are destroying any positive atmosphere and interfering with the consultation process. China is actively promoting the negotiation process, and will continue in the future to maintain a positive approach to the code of conduct in a spirit of goodwill.
Read the Chinese version: 别想借“准则”算计中国; Source: People's Daily Overseas Edition; Author: Wang Yu