【Research Papers】The Declaration on the Conduct of Parties and a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea: Recent Actions Taken by ASEAN
Research Fellow, Institute of European and American Studies and Adjunct Research Fellow, Center for Asia-Pacific Area Studies, Academia Sinica, Taipei
This article examines recent developments in the South China Sea (SCS), in particular focusing on the actions taken by ASEAN to push implementing the 2002 China-ASEAN Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and to move further toward an eventual adoption of a regional Code of Conduct (COC). Recent developments in relation to sovereignty and maritime disputes over the past three years are first summarized to explain the ineffectiveness of the DOC. This is followed by a discussion of the adoption of the DOC, the difficulties ASEAN encountered in dealing with the SCS issues as a group, and recent actions taken by ASEAN to help implement the declaration. The author concludes that Indonesia is likely to play more important role in 2011 in dealing with the SCS issues and the DOC/COC matters, mainly because the country took over the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2011 and it has undertaken great efforts to help manage the potential conflicts in the SCS over the past two decades via the SCS workshop process. The United States is also likely to be seen working closely with Indonesia to bring up the SCS issues at the ASEAN-related meetings, in particular, the 18th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), 2nd ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM+), and 6th East Asia Summit (EAS), to check China’s assertive moves in the SCS. For China, in order to counter the U.S. involvement in the SCS issues, it is likely that Beijing will take a softened position in response to the claimant countries’ call for adoption of the guidelines to help implement the DOC.
Keywords: South China Sea, ASEAN, China, Declaration on the Conduct of Parties