President Duterte said most of the parties are member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) but “the biggest urgency” was shown by Western countries.
AFP/File
Duterte asked on status of Code of Conduct
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - September 1, 2019 - 12:00am

BEIJING – President Duterte has revealed that several parties have been reaching out to him to talk about the status of the long-delayed Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea. 

Duterte said most of the parties are member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) but “the biggest urgency” was shown by Western countries.

“Being the coordinator country of ASEAN-China, I have been the recipient of so many requests regarding the progress of the Code of Conduct that China is preparing for,” he said during his bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang last Friday at the Great Hall of the People here. 

Duterte also said the “passage” of a binding code by China and other parties in the South China Sea dispute “is the least concern” of the United States.

Asked to explain the President’s statement, Philippine Ambassador Jose Santiago Sta. Romana said it was made in the context of discussion on how the completion of the COC could be accelerated.

He noted that Chinese President Xi Jinping had also remarked that China and ASEAN are making “steady progress” in the talks on the COC and had claimed that the South China Sea situation is “improving, but for outside interference.”

Li told Duterte he was hopeful that a consensus would be achieved on the COC.

“It is our hope that during the Philippines’ tenure as the country coordinator of China-ASEAN relations, we will conclude COC consultations so as to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea,” the Chinese premier said.

Last June, Duterte said the US should stay out of the talks on the South China Sea row, believing it would end up engaging in a “shouting match” with China. The President had proposed the tapping of a neutral third party to fast track the talks on the code. 

In 2002, ASEAN and China agreed to craft a binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea to ensure peace and stability in the vital sealane.

During his meeting with Xi here last Thursday, Duterte cited the need to finish the Code of Conduct, saying it would help resolve numerous conflicts.

Xi agreed that there is a need to come up with a Code of Conduct and that it should be finalized within the remaining years of Duterte’s presidency.  

Aside from Li, Duterte also met with various business groups and officials last Friday.

He had meetings with construction delegates, whom he considers as primary partners in the government’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure program. 

ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS CODE OF CONDUCT SOUTH CHINA SEA
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