PM Prayut calls for South China Sea to be zone of peace
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha waded into the ongoing controversies over territorial claims in the South China Sea last week by calling on all nations to regard the area as a “sea of peace” and urging a Code of Conduct for the body of water be finalized and approved by countries of the region.
“We would like to see the South China Sea as a sea of peace, stability and sustainable development for the interest of all,” Prayut Chan-o-cha told journalists in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, on the eve of the 30th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the 10-nation grouping of countries in the region.
Thailand has no territorial claims in the South China Sea and has been trying to help mediate between those countries that do. As a means of defusing conflicts and potential confrontations while the nations involved attempt to reach agreements on the claims, the countries of the region have been drafting a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea. The code has not, however, been finalized.
“I support the ASEAN decision to finalize the Code of Conduct in the middle of this year. It is very important to put in place a common regulation for the peaceful use of the South China Sea,” Prayut said.
The United States has been strongly supportive of the ASEAN position on the South China Sea insofar as freedom of navigation, while not taking a stand on any specific territorial claims.
While work on the Code of Conduct continues, Prayut pointed out that ASEAN and China have agreed to other mechanisms to prevent incidents and conflicts in the Sea. These include the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
In a wide-ranging speech at the summit, Prime Minister Prayut called on ASEAN nations to work more closely together to counter new and growing threats through better exchanges of information and intelligence.
He voiced his support for the establishment of an ASEAN Cyber-security Center so member nations could cooperate in defending against and defeating cyber attacks. He also called for putting human security at the center of ASEAN’s development.
Royal Thai Embassy