Asean backs Manila on sea row


JAKARTA: The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) supports the Philippines’ bid for a peaceful resolution of its own territorial dispute with China, as well as the stance of other claimant countries that reject Bejing’s “dotted line” policy in asserting its sovereignty over rocks and islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

“The dotted line [policy] is not binding [on] any [claimant] . . . but Asean supports the peaceful resolution of these disputes [concerning the Philippines and three other countries with China],” Asean secretary general Le Luong Minh told The Manila Times in an interview.

In light of the Asean Economic Community integration this year, Le said the sea issue is of paramount importance because any conflict that may arise “will be very detrimental” to the envisioned common market.

“For the Asean community, peace and stability and security [are] of paramount importance to allow us to focus on economic development… Any hostility or conflict that will erupt in the region will be very detrimental to our process of community building,” the official explained.


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