US think-tank casts doubt on South China Sea code


Posted at Dec 07 2018 04:15 PM

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MANILA - Chances of signing a code of conduct in the South China Sea any time soon may be slim, an analyst from a US think-tank said on Friday.

Gregory Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, said China seems to avoid touching the hardest issues on the released code of conduct (COC) draft.

"The worst thing that can happen is a bad COC -- a COC that binds the hands of the Southeast Asian claimants and allows China to continue militarizing," he told ANC.

"I don't believe China is incapable of compromise, that they'll never do it. But right now, they feel they're winning, that they're getting their way on the ground without having to negotiate," he added.

Among these hard compromises, Poling said, include the issue on geographical scope, joint oil exploration, and fishing in the busy waterway. 

President Rodrigo Duterte and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations said last month that talks on the sea code for the South China Sea is in "steady progress."

Both said they committed with China to the “expeditious conclusion of an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.”