TOKYO: Senior officials of Japan, Australia and India agreed Friday on the importance of maintaining the rule of law in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), sharing “strong concerns” about tensions in the region amid China’s rising maritime assertiveness. “We shared strong concerns about moves to unilaterally change the status quo that would lead to destabilization in the region,” Vice Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki told reporters after talks with his Australian and Indian counterparts in Tokyo. The three-way meeting comes as China’s deployment of an advanced surface-to-air missile system has stoked concerns the country is pursuing militarization in the South China Sea, adding to tensions already heightened by Beijing’s massive and fast-paced reclamation works in the sea. China is also boosting its presence in the Indian Ocean, which provides essential maritime traffic access for the transportation of oil, gas and other resources from the Arabian Sea. “We also shared the need to establish a new rule in the region to secure the rule of law and the freedom of navigation,” Saiki said. Saiki was referring to the ongoing discussions between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to conclude the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea,… Read full this story
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