DA NANG, Vietnam (Nikkei)–An ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) chairman’s statement next week is likely to call for preventative diplomacy to arrest an escalation of territorial spats with China in the South China Sea, it was learned Friday.
Foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and the U.S., are scheduled to meet next week in Bali to discuss security issues in Asia.
China is opposed to the forum taking up the maritime disputes, while ASEAN members involved in the rows, such as Vietnam and the Philippines, wish to solve the matter in cooperation with countries such as Japan and the U.S.
The chairman’s statement — expected on July 23 — is likely to stress that ARF should play an important role in regional stability, in an apparent bid to expand the forum’s role. The statement is also expected to call for a focus on preventative diplomacy, and for participating nations to consider steps to avoid disputes.
In reference to the spats, the statement will probably specifically mention China, saying that a peaceful, friendly and harmonious environment is needed between China and ASEAN. It will also call for the pursuit of regional peace, stability, economic development and prosperity.