China wants drills with Asean nations | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 03, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 03, 2018

SOUTH CHINA SEA ROW

China wants drills with Asean nations

China wants military exercises and energy exploration with Southeast Asian nations in disputed waters, according to a draft document, but insists on outside countries being excluded in what analysts say is a bid to diminish US influence.

Beijing's suggestions are part of efforts to expand its influence in the South China Sea, which it claims almost entirely, and push back at Washington which has backed countries with overlapping claims to the waters.

A code of conduct between Beijing and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to govern behaviour in the strategic sea has been years in the making.

The draft document, seen by AFP, outlines different countries' bargaining positions as they work towards an agreement, and analysts said it represented some initial progress.

In the text, Vietnam offers the strongest opposition to Beijing's activities -- calling for countries to stop building artificial islands and establishing military installations.

At a meeting of foreign ministers in Singapore yesterday, Beijing and Asean announced they had agreed on the negotiating text for the code.

Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who is chairing the meeting, called the draft a "major achievement".

"The code of conduct is meant to... ensure that peace, stability, confidence is built up so that we can continue to make collective progress between Asean and China while we take time to resolve the territorial disputes," he said yesterday.

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