ASEAN, China see South China Sea code first draft by 2019

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
ASEAN, China see South China Sea code first draft by 2019
(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

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.

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 28, 2023 - 12:01pm

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 28, 2023 - 12:01pm

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources conducts an aerial maritime inspection over Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc on Thursday, according to a report of PTV.

PTV says BFAR is checking if the southeast portion of Bajo de Mansinloc remains free from illegal and hazardous floating barriers.

Earlier this week, the Philippine Coast removed the chains surrounding the entrance of Bajo de Masinloc installed by the China Coast Guard. — PTV

September 25, 2023 - 3:02pm

The National Security Council condemns the installation of the floating barriers of the China Coast Guard in Bajo de Masinloc, PTV reports on Monday.

“It ruled categorically that such action by the PRC violated the traditional fishing rights of our fishermen in the shoal who have been fishing there for centuries," NSC Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya says.

"Any State that prevents them from doing artisanal fishing there violates UNCLOS and international law, in general,” he adds.

September 22, 2023 - 2:33pm

PTV reports that BRP Antonio Luna of the Philippine Navy and HMCS Ottawa of the Royal Canadian Navy conducted a joint sail in the West Philippine Sea on Sept. 21.

“The joint sail is part of the Philippine Navy's regular engagements with its partners in the Philippines' maritime zones. Bravo Zulu to all the personnel of both ships and those who planned this activity," Ltc Enrico Gil Ileto, Public Affairs AFP chief says.


July 21, 2023 - 3:49pm

Ahead of the second State of the Nation Address of President Ferdinand Marcis Jr, the descendants of the Bai sa Condor and  Anta sa Tebouk, on behalf of the Iranun in the Philippines composed of 16 sultans, formally declares ownership of the  Spratly Islands and the Scarborough Shoals as patrimony from their ancestors. 

The declaration of ownership is led by Sultan Tomas Reyes Cabili, Jr. as part of the advocacy of the Tomas Ll. Cabili  Foundation (TLC Foundation).

"TLC Foundation is doing this for our country’s sake as a whole on our claim for what is ours. Not just for our Muslim brothers and the Moro Origins of Mindanao (IRANUN), BUT for all the Filipinos - and the next generations to come. All the Philippines’ descendants of the Iranunis unfurling the historical dimension of the Spratlys and the ScarboroughShoals to strengthen the Philippines' claim on them and complement the theoretical frameworks already presented in the United Nations," Cabili says.

July 5, 2023 - 10:47am

Raymond Powell, project lead at the Gordion Knot Center for National Security Innovation, tweets that China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels "maneuvered dangerously close" to two Philippine Coast Guard ships on a resupply mission at Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea last week.

In a tweet, Powell identifies the ships as BRP Malabrigo and BRP Malapascua. He says these were escorting a small-boat resupply mission to the Philippines' outpost aboard BRP Sierra Madre and were met by an armada of CCG and militia ships, as well as a possible navy vessel.

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