Next Monday the senior officials from Asean and China will be meeting in Pattaya after they met last September at Suzhou, China where they kicked off official consultation on the process of formulating code of conducts (CoC) for the South China Sea. It was a turning point as China expressed the readiness to engage Asean on this sensitive issue. Last month, their officials at the working level met in Singapore to review the progress and prepare recommendations for the Pattaya meeting, which will also meet back to back to discuss overall Asean-China relations.
During the past six months, there have been critical developments in Asean-China relations including the declaration of Air Defense Identification Zone, the Hainan Island’s new fishing regulations and the rising tension in the South China Sea involving major claimants—China, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
In addition, major powers, especially the US and China, have also issued strong warnings about the potential dangers of the ongoing disputes. Ahead of the US President Barack Obama’s visit to Asia later this month, Washington has repeatedly called for the Asean unity and faster delivery of a code of conducts for South China Sea. Last week at Boao, Hainan Island, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang once again reiterated that Beijing is committed to peaceful development but it will respond firmly to provocations in the disputed maritime zones.