Source: Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs
7 August 2017
The Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Australia, Julie Bishop, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Taro Kono, and the Secretary of State of the United States, Rex Tillerson, met in Manila, the Philippines, on August 7, 2017, for the 7th ministerial meeting of the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue. The following is the full text of the joint statement issued after the meeting. Specifically on the South China Sea and maritime security issues, the joint statement says:
The Ministers underscored the importance of upholding the rules-based order, called on all states to respect freedom of navigation and overflight and other internationally lawful uses of the seas, and reiterated that the three countries will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows.
The Ministers expressed serious concerns over maritime disputes in the South China Sea (SCS). The Ministers voiced their strong opposition to coercive unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions. In this regard, the Ministers urged SCS claimants to refrain from land reclamation, construction of outposts, militarization of disputed features, and undertaking unilateral actions that cause permanent physical change to the marine environment in areas pending delimitation. The Ministers called on all claimants to make and clarify their maritime claims in accordance with the international law of the sea as reflected in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and to resolve disputes peacefully in accordance with international law. The Ministers called on China and the Philippines to abide by the Arbitral Tribunal’s 2016 Award in the Philippines-China arbitration, as it is final and legally binding on both parties. The Ministers noted the significance of the UNCLOS dispute settlement regime and the Tribunal’s decision in discussions among parties in their efforts to peacefully resolve their maritime disputes in the SCS. The Ministers urged ASEAN member states and China to fully and effectively implement the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). The Ministers acknowledged the announced consensus on a framework for the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea (COC). The Ministers further urged ASEAN member states and China to ensure that the COC be finalized in a timely manner, and that it be legally binding, meaningful, effective, and consistent with international law.
The Ministers welcomed the development of trilateral cooperation on capacity building for maritime security and safety in Southeast Asia. The Ministers resolved to advance and build on this cooperation through ongoing exchanges of information and dialogue on regional needs. The Ministers reiterated the commitment of the three nations to continue coordinating their respective assistance programs and to identify ways they can more closely collaborate in the future.
The Ministers expressed strong opposition to any coercive or unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions in the East China Sea and will remain in close communication about developments in the area.
Treaties, Agreements and Joint Statements: