FA162 - 5 November 2002
Australia Welcomes Declaration on the South China Sea
I welcome the agreement between ASEAN member states and the People's
Republic of China on a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the
South China Sea, which was signed in Phnom Penh on 4 November 2002.
The Declaration commits parties to promote peace and stability in
the South China Sea, where there are a number of overlapping territorial
This Declaration, which sets out the principles to guide conduct
in the South China Sea, is good news for Australia. We have a strong
interest in avoiding destabilising conflict in our region and in ensuring
freedom of navigation in an area through which much of our commercial
Australia has been an advocate of a regional code of conduct for
the South China Sea for several years. At the ASEAN Regional Forum
in July 1999, I put forward some informal suggestions on what such
a code might contain.
I am pleased to note that the Declaration features several of these
suggested elements. These include undertakings to refrain from inhabiting
presently uninhabited reefs and to exercise self-restraint; and an
implicit acknowledgement by claimants of the existence of other competing
The Declaration alone cannot resolve territorial issues at the heart
of the South China Sea dispute, nor does it impose legally-binding
or enforceable obligations on parties. This will require the continuing
political commitment of parties if it is to contribute to maintaining
peace and stability in the region.
Australia will continue to encourage all parties to abide by their
new undertakings in this Declaration.
Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) +61 02 6277 7500 / Lyndall
Sachs (Departmental) +61 02 6261 1555
Tuesday, 07-Jan-2014 10:28:26 EST