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China and ASEAN may have joint maritime exercise in 2018
(4 June 2017) In 2016 China proposed a joint maritime exercise at the China-Asean Defence Ministers’ Informal Meeting in Laos. This was raised again at the Shangri-La Dialogue, and China reiterated that they are ready to explore the setting up of a China-Asean defence communication link. The joint maritime exercise was proposed to build up mutual trust between China and ASEAN member states and may be held in 2018.
Vietnam calls for a diplomatic hotline for problems at sea
(5 June 2017) Vietnam has emphasised the need for ASEAN and China to implement the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) and to run a diplomatic hotline to settle problems at sea. Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Public Security Senior Lieutenant General Bùi Văn Nam said during the 16th Shangri-La Dialogue, that CUES must apply to all government vessels operating in the East Sea, including military and semi-military ships. He also said ASEAN and China should work together for the early formation of a Code of Conduct in the East Sea which is binding, comprehensive, practical and acts as an effective tool to prevent disputes and maintain peace.
ASEAN to ask for legally binding South China Sea rules
(6 June 2017) ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh said that ASEAN will aim for a legally binding code of conduct (COC) on the South China Sea when it negotiates with Beijing. Senior ASEAN and Chinese diplomats agreed on a draft framework for the code in May. However, the framework will have to be approved by ministers and leaders before parties can discuss specific details, Minh said. He also added that ASEAN wants an “early conclusion” for the code of conduct. But China has not openly backed the idea of having legally binding rules, something that analysts see as a major factor that could further delay the COC.
Economy, Investment and Trade
Chinese company to start oil refinery in Brunei by 2019
(2 June 2017) Chinese company Hengyi Group expects to begin operating a US$3.4 billion refinery in resource-rich Brunei by 2019. Construction on the 160,000 barrels-per-day facility will be completed in October 2018. The facility has been delayed from an initial of 2015 target, with Hengyi partly blaming delays on local infrastructure. This facility will be the largest of its kind run outside of China and will provide feedstock for Chinese operations as well as produce fuel to compete with regional suppliers.
China-ASEAN innovation centre to be setup in Bali
(2 June 2017) The ASEAN-China Innovation Center is set to be built in Bali to support the Belt and Road Initiative. Indonesian Ambassador to China Soegeng Rahardjo said he requested the centre to be built in Bali as the renowned holiday destination would provide extra incentive for analysts and experts to come down and participate in the centre’s programmes. Both ASEAN and China have agreed to the Indonesian Ambassador’s suggestion.