Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa says Indonesia is working to establish a conflict-resolution mechanism for ongoing tensions in the South China Sea.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China have formulated a draft code of conduct regarding the potentially resource-rich area. Competing claims over the sea are expected to be the source of heated debate at the July 9-13 Asean foreign ministerial meeting in Cambodia.

“From early on, Indonesia thinks that this is a polemic that should have never occurred,” Marty said. “The COC is designed to be a conflict-prevention instrument. Indonesia will test whether this COC is authoritative enough. … We need to test this to ensure the COC is feasible and clearly defines steps taken in the event of an incident and its report mechanism.”

China is involved in long-running disputes with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei about ownership of the South China Sea and its many, mostly uninhabited, islands and atolls.

The South China Sea is potentially the biggest flashpoint for confrontation in Asia, and tensions have risen since the United States adopted a policy last year to reinforce its influence in the region.

At stake is control over what are believed to be significant reserves of oil and gas.

Source: Jarkata Globe

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