SINGAPORE, June 14. /TASS/. The foreign ministers of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member countries expressed serious concern over the recent developments in the South China Sea and called on China to cooperate with an aim of ensuring stability in the region, Singapore’s Foreign Ministry told TASS on Tuesday.
At the meeting of ASEAN-China foreign ministers in China’s Kunming, "the Singaporean foreign minister, as a co-chair of consultations and on behalf of ASEAN member countries, expressed concern to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi over the situation in the South China Sea and called for joint work to maintain peace and stability," the foreign ministry said. Moreover, "the minister stressed the importance of a peaceful resolution of (territorial) disputes in accordance with international law, as well as of ensuring freedom of flights and navigation in the South China Sea," the ministry added.
Beijing has for decades been involved in a dispute with many countries in the region over the territorial jurisdiction of a number of islands in the South China Sea, where significant reserves of hydrocarbons have been found. This refers, above all, to the Xisha archipelago (the Paracel Islands), the Nansha Islands (the Spratly Islands) and Huangyan Island. Other countries involved in the dispute are Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines. As of the end of 2013, China has been engaged in large-scale hydro-engineering and construction work on the expansion and development of the territories under its control.
ASEAN comprises Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar with a total population of over 600 million people. The Association aims to develop cooperation in the economic, social, cultural and other spheres, and also strengthen peace and stability in Southeast Asia.