(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: July 14, 2020 - 7:34am

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.

July 14, 2020 - 7:34am

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the United States would treat Beijing's pursuit of resources in the dispute-rife South China Sea as illegal, ramping up pressure on another front.

"We are making clear: Beijing's claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them," Pompeo says in a statement.

The United States has long rejected Beijing's sweeping claims in the South ChinaSea, aligning itself with Vietnam, the Philippines and other US partners in the region. — AFP

July 3, 2020 - 7:28am

The Pentagon says it is "concerned" about Chinese military exercises around a disputed archipelago in the South China Sea, noting the maneuvers will "further destabilize" the region.

"The Department of Defense is concerned about the People's Republic of China (PRC) decision to conduct military exercises around the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on July 1-5," the Pentagon says in a statement.

The activities "further destabilize the situation" in the area claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan, it says. — AFP

April 30, 2020 - 4:15pm

The Philippines says it strongly protests "the establishment of the so-called districts of 'Nansha' and 'Xisha' under the supposed administrative jurisdiction of its self-declared 'Sansha City'" which would cover parts of the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs says it has protested since 2012 the "unlawful establishment of Sansha City" that includes Philippine territory and maritime zones in the WPS, including the Kalayaan Island Group and Bajo de Masinloc.

The Philippines also protests the dseignation of Kagitingan Reef in the Kalayaan Island Group "as adinistrative center for the so-called 'Nansha district'," saying the reef is part of the KIG and an integral part of Philippine territory.

April 27, 2020 - 1:41pm

Sen. Risa Hontiveros has filed a resolution to urge the executive branch to "exert legal and diplomatic pressure" on China over its activities in the West Philippine and to have the regional giant pay for enviromental damage in the area.

"China's sense of entitlement to our seas has caused severe and irreparable harm to our ecosystems," Hontiveros says in a statement on the filing of Philippine Senate Resolution No. 369.

Even if the Senate, the majority of which supports the Duterte administration and its foreign policy with China, adopts the resolution, it is non-binding on the executive branch.

"Hindi tayo kolonya, kaya panahon nang singilin ng gobyerno ang Tsina (We are not a colony so it's about time that we have China pay)," she also says.

In her resolution, Hontiveros says "unlawful Chinese activities in the West Philippine Sea are estimated to have caused at last P33 billion in damage annually to marine ecosystems within the Philippines' continental shelf and exclusive economic zone" since 2013, the year that the Philippines filed its arbitration case.

April 22, 2020 - 7:59pm

The Philippines has sent the Chinese Embassy two diplomatic protests, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. says on his Twitter account.

He says the protests are on "1. on the pointing of a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship in Philippines waters and 2. [on] declaring parts of Philippine territory as part of Hainan province—both violations of international law and Philippine sovereignty."

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