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Thailand: Turn South China Sea into sea of peace

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha speaks at the Prosperity for All forum on the sidelines of the Asean summit in Pasay City yesterday. AFP

MANILA, Philippines -  On the eve of the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, Thailand yesterday reiterated its support for the peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea.

“We would like to see the South China Sea as a sea of peace, stability and sustainable development for the interest of all,” Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said in an interview with Filipino journalists.

While Thailand is a non-claimant in the South China Sea, Chan-o-cha stressed the need to finalize a framework for the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

The proposed COC is a binding agreement that will ensure peace and stability over the potentially mineral-rich contested waters.

Chan-o-cha also cited the importance of full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to foster cooperation in various areas for mutual benefits.

“I support the ASEAN decision to finalize the COC 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,” he said.

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Chan-o-cha said ASEAN and China have agreed on mechanisms to prevent and manage incidents in the area, such as the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea.

He said Thailand has also established a hotline as a channel to communicate in case of emergency.

Aside from China and the Philippines, other ASEAN members such as Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei have conflicting claims in the South China Sea.

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