NAYPYITAW, Burma—President Aquino on Thursday challenged China to take “concrete action” in the South China Sea to match its diplomatic overtures in the Southeast Asian region.
Speaking at the dialogue between the 10 Southeast Asian countries and China near the close of the 25th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit here, Aquino said the group was “concerned about developments” in the South China Sea, referring to China’s reclamation of land and occupation of islets and reefs in the West Philippine Sea, part of the sea within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone.
Buoyed by support from other Asean leaders for the Philippines’ arbitration case against China in the United Nations, President Aquino pressed for the conclusion of a legally binding code of conduct between Asean and China that would prevent conflicting claims in the South China Sea from erupting into conflict.
Aquino said that as a partner of Asean, China had to “demonstrate to the rest of the world” that it can, jointly with the Southeast Asian bloc, deal with security concerns in the region “based on the rule of law.”
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