Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have failed to issue a joint statement on a landmark ruling by a UN-backed arbitral tribunal upholding the Philippines’ sovereign rights in the disputed South China Sea and invalidated China’s so-called nine-dash-line.
Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. earlier said he expected the 10-nation ASEAN to issue a joint statement supporting the implementation of the historic July 12 ruling, which China has rejected.
“We hope ASEAN will come up with a unified statement, I say this, in the context of the fact that it will be important for ASEAN to have a unified statement [on the arbitration ruling],” Yasay had said ahead of his trip to attend the 11th Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbataar, this week.
Communication Secretary Martin Andanar said President Duterte was skipping the two-day ASEM summit beginning on Friday because he wanted to stay with Filipinos in the early days of his term.
Instead, Yasay would represent the country in the event, the first international gathering where the country’s new leader will miss the chance to discuss the Philippines’ fresh victory in the arbitration case that challenged Beijing’s claim to the whole of the South China Sea.
President Duterte has yet to specify the country’s next move, but his spokesperson has said he was consulting with experts and would issue a statement soon. He had earlier said he wanted to talk to China in case the Philippines won.
The ASEM is an informal process of dialogue and cooperation that brings together European Union member states and the Europe with 21 Asian countries and the ASEAN Secretariat.