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Russia: AUKUS may interfere with development of Code of Conduct for parties in S. China Sea

Written by The Frontier Post

MOSCOW (TASS): A new US-UK-Australia security partnership (AUKUS) could hinder the development of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China. Al-exey Ovchinnikov, Director of the Department for Asian and Pacific Cooperation of the Russian Foreign Minis-try, announced this on Tue-sday at the 12th Asian Con-ference of the Valdai Inter-national Discussion Club.
“The quintessence of the Indo-Pacific project suddenly becomes a radical version of the project of the AUKUS block. How it will go and how many risks associated with it are now being actively discussed. Many actions that are now being taken within the framework of this project can provoke some retaliatory actions, and this can hit a very important process for the region – negotiations on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea,” he said.
“In my understanding, many actions, including after the creation of the AUKUS bloc, can provoke some other actions that will simply undermine the neg-otiation process and make it impossible,” Ovchinnikov noted. time, other parties that are not involved in the development of rules for the whole region and sub-region will launch their draft rules for the South China Sea on a different basis, but with their own vision. The logic of the development of events says that this is possible.”
Ovchinnikov said that the Asia-Pacific region is experiencing a political and economic transition from a comfort zone to a zone of turbulence.
“The Asia-Pacific region is leaving the comfort zone politically and economically, and to some extent now we can talk about a zone of turbulence,” he said.
Ovchinnikov drew attention to the fact that at the moment “attempts are being made to substitute micro-lateral schemes for general regional processes,” which are aimed at forming a “new geopolitical project.” “The trigger here is the Indo-Pacific concept,” he said.
According to the representative of the diplomatic service, the concept of “Indo-Pacific” is presented today as “the only and main mainstream”, at the same time its semantic load remains opaque. “The” Indo-Pacific “framework as a geographical framework is of no interest to anyone, continued Ovchinnikov.” A certain Indo-Pacific Quartet was formed (four-sided dialogue on the security of the USA, Japan, India and Australia – TASS note), immediately there was a development around this mechanism <…>, several countries from the region are connected to it, and then we see a much more serious process – this Quad appears on a regular basis to enter Latin America, the Middle East, and the Euro-Atlantic.”
As Ovchinnikov noted, the breadth of the content of “Indo-Pacific” allows for an instant “transition of the NATO Euro-Atlantic and seven-fold Euro-Atlantic paradigm to the Indo-Pacific paradigm,” and as a result, “a huge number of minilateral structures of all kinds begin to form based on such a line.” “Alternative [Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)] mechanisms have been created. They are multiplying, and here in the region <…> a very serious fragmentation is taking place, and it is not in favor of cooperation,” said the representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry. offered in various schemes, including economic ones, unfortunately, not within the framework of healthy competition.”
The diplomat stressed that the Russian side is currently recording “a very strong increase in military activity [in the region].” “And this military activity is complemented by the introduction of serious power components from outside,” he summed up.
Over the past years, China, as well as a number of ASEAN member states, including Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, have waged territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The parties have repeatedly stressed that, despite the existence of serious disagreements, there is an understanding of the need to conclude a Code of Conduct as soon as possible, designed to establish the procedure for dealing with conflict situations and provide opportunities for their resolution. Work on this document has been going on for several years, and, as stressed in Beijing, significant progress has been made, although the code has not yet been adopted.
China is categorically opposed to any interference in this territorial dispute by third countries, primarily Great Britain, the European Union, the United States, and Japan. Beijing has repeatedly pointed out that it is precisely the steps of Washington, which is sending aircraft-carrying groups into the water area, that undermine stability and lead to the militarization of the region.

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