No guarantee China will honor code of conduct
THE DEPARTMENT of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said China’s agreement to the general framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea was not enough guarantee of Beijing’s commitment to peacefully settle disputes in the contested waters.
China and Asean senior ministers agreed to finish the general framework of the legally binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea following a meeting last week in China. But the political commitment to settle disputes has yet to be proven by China, according to DFA spokesperson Charles Jose.
“It should be noted that this is only the general framework [of the COC], this is only the skeleton or outline of the COC, we need to put the flesh on the bone,” Jose told a press briefing at the DFA on Thursday.
He said China’s presence in the waters of Scarborough remained a violation of the Declaration of Conduct in the South China Sea signed by China and Asean in 2002.
“We call on parties in the South China Sea to exercise self restrain and work with regional efforts to maintain peace, stability in the region,” said Jose.
The DFA official said the Philippine government continued to monitor Chinese military activities in the disputed waters of South China Sea. “We continue to call on all parties to refrain from doing anything that would escalate the tension. And we continue all parties to exercise self restraint and work with the regional effort to promote peace security and stability in the region.”
China’s agreement to the framework of COC “ remains to be seen,” said Jose, adding that the parties-Asean and China agreed to finish the framework by 2017.
“That’s the mutual aspiration of Asean and China, especially the Philippines, because it is consistent with our position to have an expeditious conclusion of the negotiation for the Code of Conduct [in the South China Sea],” he said.
China and four Asean members-Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia are claimants to the waters of South China Sea. The Philippines filed an arbitration case and won over its exclusive rights to exploit maritime resources within 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
However, China’s military presence and activities in the disputed waters continue to raise concern in the international community.
The Philippines is hosting the 50th Asean Leaders Summit next year and leaders are hopeful that the legally binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea will finally be signed during the meeting. TVJ
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