Locsin likens South China Sea code to 'feeding a dragon in your living room'
In this May 9, 2019 photo, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. hosts a reception to launch the Philippine candidature to the United Nations Board of Auditors at the DFA headquarters.

Locsin likens South China Sea code to 'feeding a dragon in your living room'

Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - September 25, 2019 - 4:30pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines' top diplomat said that a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea would implicitly recognize Beijing's dominance in the region.

Member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including the Philippines, are currently negotiating with China on a legally binding COC.

Speaking with former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at the Asia Society Policy Institute, Locsin said a COC over the disputed waters would be an acknowledgement that China is the hegemon or the dominant power in the region.

"It is implicit recognition of China's hegemony. In short, a manual for living with a hegemon or the care and feeding of a dragon in your living room," Locsin said.

Locsin said one of his foreign counterparts told him that "even a good code of conduct is still a Chinese code of conduct."

This is due to the fact that the sea code would be all about how Southeast Asian countries and China engage with each other.

'China has softened stance'

The DFA chief, however, noted that Beijing has "softened" its stance on controversial provisions on the COC.

"Their objectionable provisions excluding the Western military presence in the South China Sea... They're not holding on to that anymore," the secretary said.

Locsin also emphasized the relationship of the Philippines with the US, which he described as "the eternal engine of endeavor and invention."

The DFA chief noted that 82% of Filipinos are satisfied with President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been outwardly hostile to Washington.

The US, meanwhile, remains the most trusted country of the Filipinos with 92% saying they have trust in the country's long-time ally, according to a Social Weather Stations survey in July.

"It's very clear that the people are pro-America and so is the army," Locsin said.

The secretary also expressed his hope that the alliance between the Philippines and the US will remain "rock solid."

"We hope not just in words but in material commitments. We cannot see any way forward and an Asia with any promise of freedom without American military help," he said.

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