As ASEAN falters, Japan, Australia, US chide China on territorial claims

The U.S. will continue freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea, a senior Navy officer says, as the region continues to react to a landmark Hague ruling on territorial claims in the disputed waters.

It failed to mention a recent ruling by an global arbitration panel in a dispute between the Philippines and China that said Beijing's claims in the South China Sea were illegal and that the Philippines was justifiably the aggrieved party.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has backed efforts to resume stalled dialogue between China and Philippines over the South China Sea dispute.

In a case brought by the Philippines, a United Nations tribunal ruled against China, deeming its territorial claims "invalid".

Mr Kerry reiterated Washington's stance that the tribunal's decision to favour the Philippines was binding, but added that it was time to seek new ground.

Kerry arrived in Manila late Tuesday evening to meet the Philippine president and discuss issues concerning the maritime dispute between the Philippines and China.

Kishida and Wang met on the sidelines of a series of regional meetings involving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the Laotian capital, where South China Sea tensions have been a dominant issue.

"And even when there are times of tension and stress, as we've seen over the questions in the South China Sea or otherwise", Kerry told Yasay, "I know we can count on you and you know you can count on us".

"This could include China toning down if not curtailing the heavy-handed behavior of its coast guard, and China exerting greater control over its rapacious fishermen", said Carlyle Thayer, emeritus professor at the Australian Defense Force Academy. A lack of mention of an worldwide tribunal's recent ruling favouring the Philippines showed an understanding that sensitive issues should not get in the way of progress.

Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday paid a visit on President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang.

When meeting with Slovak Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajcak, whose country now holds the rotating European Union (EU) Council presidency, Monday in the Lao capital, Wang said China and the ASEAN members have reached consensus on returning to the right track of dialogue and consultation between countries directly involved in the maritime disputes with a "dual-track" approach.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declined to comment on the joint statement on July 25, saying that Japan is not an ASEAN member.

"Mr. Kerry was helpful in defining certain issues about the Paris pact and the president also responded appropriately when he said the Philippines will work just as long as everything is fair", said Abella.

Meanwhile, the Philippines has entered into strategic agreements with the US, Japan and Vietnam to counter Chinese presence in the region.

The United States had earlier on Monday urged ASEAN to make a reference to the July 12 ruling by The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, in which USA ally Manila won an emphatic legal victory over China on the dispute.

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