China avoids signing South China Sea code of conduct to keep upper hand in dispute
Beijing, July 13 (ANI): China has avoided signing the South China Sea Code of Conduct, as it wants to retain the upper hand in the dispute.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, China is torn between being a good Asian neighbour and using its dominant role in the region to get the most out of the ocean.
"China says there needs to be greater confidence and trust building, there's a sense that China is being told what to do," Bonnie Glaser, senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said.
"The risk is, it becomes a voluntary agreement, and in that case, it's completely meaningless," she added.
"[China] is a much bigger country and can leverage that better in its bilateral agreements," the paper quoted Glaser, as saying.
The Obama administration is pressing Beijing to accept the code of conduct for resolving territorial disputes in the resource-rich South China Sea, a difficult mediation effort that has faced resistance from the Communist government.
Asian governments with overlapping claims to the South China Sea are working towards a code of conduct for handling the frequent conflicts between competing naval ships.
The agreement, raised at the Association of South East Asian Nations in Cambodia, would be the 10th covering essentially the same territorial dispute since the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The idea is that it would spell out what ships should do to avoid a clash but it wouldn't actually spell out how to resolve competing claims.
The deal is not successful unless China, the one that all the others are worried about, agrees to it, but China is against signing it.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton irked China this week by urging it to settle the dispute with all parties.
Washington is technically neutral, but relies on the sea for shipping lanes that see about half the world's tanker traffic.
If the United States got involved now, it may err on the side of aggression. US President Obama wants to be seen as a strong leader before his re-election bid in November, Lin Chong-pin, strategic studies professor at Tamkang University in Taiwan, said.
"He has to do things that the Republicans cannot use as ammo against him," he said. (ANI)
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