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    An aerial file photo taken though a glass window of a Philippine military plane shows the alleged land reclamation by China on Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines, May 11, 2015

    ASEAN Wants to Keep Neutral in South China Sea, Cooperate with US, China

    © AP Photo / Ritchie B. Tongo
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    Southeast Asian countries do not want to take part in a global confrontation between the US and China, instead preferring neutrality and a negotiated solution, a regional expert told Sputnik.

    The ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries want a moderation and resolution of the South China Sea dispute, rather than having to side with the US or China, Jing Huang, Director of Centre on Asia and Globalization at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore told Radio Sputnik.

    The US and ASEAN countries held a summit on Tuesday, in which the group agreed with the US on the need to come up with concrete steps to stabilize the situation in the South China Sea. The summit was held amid lingering tensions in the disputed South China Sea, which recently escalated over Beijing’s construction of the man-made islands.

    "The ASEAN as a whole want to keep this at neutrality, they don't want to take sides between the United States and China, they just want to solve the issue with China on a peaceful basis," Jing Huang told Radio Sputnik.

    He added that the best solution would be China and states involved in the dispute creating a body to moderate the crisis. To accomplish this, a code of conduct would need to be established.

    "The code of conduct is needed to manage the behavior of involved players. But china has from the beginning insisted on two points, which ASEAN and China see as a key for any possibility of this code of conduct. The first point is that China would join from day one, and sit at the negotiations table from the very beginning, not until the ASEAN member countries talk among themselves, reach a consensus and then let China join in," Jing Huang told Radio Sputnik.

    The second point for China is that the code of conduct, not a solution, which would have to be solved through bilateral negotiations.

    According to Jing Huang, Chinese military deployments in the area are called by China a response to US Navy presence in the area and tells the world that China would not cave in. At the same time, military deployments are not beneficial to China, which promised to solve the situation through peaceful, rather than military means.


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