(L to R) Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha, Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith wait for Indonesia's President Joko Widodo to join for a group photo before the start of the ASEAN-China summit on the sidelines of the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Singapore on November 14, 2018.
AFP/Lillian Suwanrumpha
ASEAN, China see South China Sea code first draft by 2019
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - November 14, 2018 - 2:30pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China are looking forward to the completion of the first draft of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) by next year.

Speaking as country coordinator for the ASEAN-China dialogue relations, President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated the parties' commitment to the "expeditious conclusion" of an effective COC.

"ASEAN and China have seen steady progress in the initial phase of the COC negotiations since the announcement of a Single Draft COC Negotiating Text, and looked forward to the completion of the first reading of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text by 2019," Duterte said in a speech before the 21st ASEAN-China Summit in Singapore.

Duterte assured his Southeast Asian counterparts, as well as Beijing, that the Philippines will continue to work with the 10-member regional bloc and China for the early conclusion of the sea code.

The Philippine leader maintained that concerned parties would continue to maintain a "conducive environment" for future rounds of negotiations on the matter.

"In the meantime, ASEAN and China continue to reaffirm the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight," Duterte said.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, meanwhile, called for support on strategic trust in his speech during the ASEAN-China Summit.

"ASEAN and China should cooperate to support ASEAN-centered regional architecture, mutual interests for all parties related to South China Sea — such as COC which will help change South China Sea to become 'sea of peace, stability and sustainable development,'" Chan-o-cha said.

Thailand will assume ASEAN chairmanship after Singapore's hosting this year.

Push COC 'at all cost'

In an interview prior to the ASEAN-China Summit, Duterte said that he will focus on the COC in the meeting with Southeast Asian leaders and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Duterte, however, expressed concern over "friction" between Western nations and China.

"I am worried, I expressed it last night, because we have a Mutual Defense Treaty with the US and there's some serious miscalculation because of the treaty," Duterte was quoted saying in an ABS-CBN News video.

The president stressed that the COC on the disputed waterway must be accomplished "at all cost."

"I'd like to tell China that is why at all cost we must have a COC so you're there, you're in position, you occupied it. Tell us what routes shall we take, what kind of behavior," Duterte said.

In recent months, Beijing has installed surface-to-air missiles, anti-cruise ship missiles and electronic jamming equipment on its "big three" islands in the Spratly Islands, which are also being claimed by Manila.

China has rejected the July 2016 arbitral ruling of a United Nations-backed tribunal that invalidated its nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 15, 2019 - 4:22pm

The United States Navy's Nimitz-class nuclear powered supercarrier USS John C. Stennis continues underway in the South China Sea.

The US Pacific Command just reported that it has received "cargo" from support ship USNS Rainier in the disputed waters.

September 15, 2019 - 4:22pm

Vice President Leni Robredo chides presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, telling him that he should be better informed of what exactly President Duterte has stated before presenting his own "interpretation," so they can stop contradicting each other in public.

Her statement comes after Panelo called her out for "misplaced and flamboyant remarks" in response to the president's remark about ignoring the arbitral ruling for a joint oil and gas exploration deal with China.

"Litong lito talaga ako, kasi ang sinasabi ni pangulo, iba sa sinasabi niya. Nagsabi si pangulo na i-set aside iyong arbitral ruling; ang sabi niya, hindi iyon iyong gustong sabihin," Robredo says on her weekly radio show, BISErbisyong LENI on RMN-DZXL 558.

Robredo says the administration should put a stop to this "practice" as contradictions between the president's statements and Panelo's "clarifications" only make things even more confusing for the people. 

August 20, 2019 - 8:59pm

The White House accuses China of "bullying tactics" in the increasingly tense waters of the South China Sea and says it will resist Beijing on the dispute.

"China’s recent escalation of efforts to intimidate others out of developing resources in the South China Sea is disturbing," President Donald Trump's national security advisor John Bolton tweets.

"The United States stands firmly with those who oppose coercive behavior and bullying tactics which threaten regional peace and security."




July 31, 2019 - 8:22am

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana should do more than acknowledge China's harassment and bullying of Filipinos in the West Philippine Sea, activist fsherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) says.

"Finally, a high-ranking official from the Duterte administration has recognized that there is an actual harassment of Filipino fishers in our own territorial waters. But we dare Mr. Lorenzana to walk the talk, if he is aware and is already fed up by the Chinese bullying and the subservience of his commander-in-chief Rodrigo Duterte to the foreign aggressor, then he must decisively act to stand with the Filipino fisherfolk and the people in upholding our sovereign and territorial rights," the group says in a statement.

Lorenzana on Tuesday said in response to Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua speech at the anniversary of China's People's Liberation Army that China is a peace-loving nation that he considers China's takeover of Scarborough Shoal, also called Panatag and Bajo de Masinloc, as bullying.

July 11, 2019 - 9:18am

An overwhelming majority of Filipinos believe it is important to that the Philippines regain control of islands in the West Philippine Sea that are occupied by China, the latest Social Weather Stations survey suggests.

SWS says 93% of respondents in its Second Quarter 2019 Social Weather Survey said it is important "that the control of the islands that China currently occupies in the West Philippine Sea be given back to the Philippines," with 74% answering it is "very important" and 19% saying it is "somewhat important".

In contrast, 1% each said it is "somewhat not important" and "not at all important". Another 4% were undecided, SWS says.
"The latest figure of 93% saying it is very important/somewhat important that the Philippines regain control of the China-occupied islands in the West Philippine Sea is 4 points above the 89% (72% very important, 17% somewhat important) in December 2018. It was 87% (72% very important, 15% somewhat important) in September 2018, and also 87% (69% very important, 18% somewhat important) in June 2018," SWS also says.

In the same survey, 89% said it is "not right for the government to leave China alone with its infrastructures and military presence in the claimed territories," SWS says. It adds the proportion has increased steadily in four surveys conducted since June 2018.

July 5, 2019 - 12:37pm

While the Philippines is still verifying the incident, fellow maritime claimant Vietnam joins the United States in raising concern over China's missile test in the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the "East Sea."

"Vietnam suggests that all activities in the East Sea (South China Sea) should respect sovereignty and legitimate and legal interests of countries and observe international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, contributing to regional peace, security, stability and cooperation," Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang says in a statement.

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