The ASEAN countries are willing to see China and the Philippines going back to negotiation table, and the most effective way to deal with the South China Sea issue is to work with claimant countries, a Cambodian expert said on Monday.
An ad hoc arbitral tribunal issued its final award last week, sweepingly siding with Manila's cunningly packaged claims, denying China's long-standing historical rights in the South China Sea.
China has reiterated that the ruling is "null and void with no binding force." Following the arbitration, both China and the Philippines have expressed their willingness to return to bilateral negotiation.
"If the Philippines and China can come and have negotiation with each other, I think it's a good thing," Vannarith Chheang, chairman of the Cambodian Institute for Strategic Studies, told reporters at a think tank seminar on South China Sea and regional cooperation and development.
He also noted that such a move are also welcomed by ASEAN countries.
"We'd like to see more cooperation between China and ASEAN. We don't want to see the South China Sea issue dominate us because we have a lot of things to do, poverty, environmental issues, climate change, human trafficking, infrastructure development," Chheang said.
Following the arbitration, China has issued a White Paper, stating that it is the consensus and commitment of China and the Philippines to settle through negotiation their relevant disputes in the South China Sea.
"I think the most effective way is to work with the claimants. Inviting other countries is not effective. We should not let the South China Sea hurt our feeling and the people-to-people relationship," he said.