Sea Row Tops ASEAN Agenda

During a press briefing in the capital, officials outlined Brunei’s political and security priorities as it takes the helm of ASEAN for the second time.

Sea row tops ASEAN agenda under Brunei’s chairmanship

A POLITICAL solution to the ongoing territorial dispute in the South China Sea is on top of Brunei’s agenda as ASEAN chair, officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said yesterday.

The country is keen to pursue a code of conduct between claimants in the disputed waters, believed to hold rich reserves of oil and gas.

China claims sovereignty over nearly all of the resource-rich sea, which is home to vital shipping lanes, but ASEAN’s Brunei, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia all have overlapping claims in the area.

During a press briefing in the capital, officials from the ministry outlined Brunei’s political and security priorities as it takes the helm of ASEAN for the second time.

The long-stalled code is seen as a way of reducing the potential for armed conflict over oil and gas exploration, fishing and shipping rights in disputed areas.

Tensions between ASEAN and China have escalated in the past two years with irritants between the economic giant and its smaller regional neighbours Vietnam and the Philippines.

Manila has pushed for a code of conduct based on a United Nations maritime law that would delineate the areas belonging to each country, usually within 200 nautical miles of its shore, dubbed an “exclusive economic zone”.

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Source: The Brunei Times.

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