Negotiations on South China Sea code of conduct starts next month
The Philippines and China on Tuesday announced that the negotiations for a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea would start next month after the two countries had “frank and cordial exchange” on the contentious issue.
Manila and Beijing said that the second bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea was “positive, fruitful and productive.”
“With the objective of maintaining and promoting peace and stability in the region, both sides discussed ways to manage and prevent incidents at sea promote dialogue and cooperation on maritime issues, and enhance mutual trust and confidence. Both sides had a positive, fruitful and productive meeting,” the two states said in joint statement.
Both sides agreed to “exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities in the South China Sea that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability.”
The meeting happened few days after the Philippine Daily Inquirer and INQUIRER.net published exclusive photos of China’s latest building activities and militarization on disputed islands.
Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manila led the Philippine delegations, while Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou represented China.
Manila and Beijing also announced the convening of technical working groups on “beneficial joint initiatives” in the areas fisheries, oil and gas, marine scientific research and marine environmental protection, and political security.
The relationship between the two countries warmed up under the Duterte administration.
The administration’s handling of the sea disputes and its approval for China’s exploration in the resource-rich Philippine Rise were slammed by critics.
But Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that the recent dialogue with Beijing shows that the Philippines was “not going soft with China.”
The third meeting will be conducted in China in the second half of 2018. /atm
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