Locsin laments 'dribbling' of South China Sea code in Asean | Global News

Locsin laments ‘dribbling’ of South China Sea code in Asean

/ 12:04 PM February 08, 2021

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. (center) delivers his intervention during the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held September 9, 2020. Photo courtesy of the DFA

MANILA, Philippines — Southeast Asian nations are “dribbling” the negotiations on the South China Sea code of conduct (COC), Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Monday.

“It’s not China, It’s Southeast Asia. Nobody’s dropping the ball but there’s dribbling going on. And I’m tired of the dribbling,” Locsin said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel.


“I don’t know whether to push them but I certainly will not conceal the fact that it was our side that dribbled it, the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) side. I don’t do cover-ups,” he added.


China and countries that have conflicting territorial claims over the South China Sea, including Asean members Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei, have been negotiating for the passage of a Code of Conduct, an accord that seeks to prevent the escalation of tensions in the disputed waterway.

The Philippines serves as the country coordinator for Asean-China dialogues.

“So far, they’re (Asean) not exactly pushing it. And I wouldn’t even, the point is I told my people here we are China coordinator. We weren’t made China coordinator to dribble the ball,” Locsin went on.

“We’re going to push it. And so we’re pushing it. Sadly Covid came in and gave us this George Clooney excuse,” he added, referring to arguments that negotiations on the COC should be done face-to-face.

Locsin had opposed this, saying that the only way face-to-face meetings can be justified is “if you look like George Clooney.”

“The excuse has been that there is Covid and this kind of negotiation requires face-to-face. I said ‘No, we’re gonna do it by Zoom.’ I said the only time face-to-face is justified is if you look like George Clooney,” Locsin said.


“As I know, none of us here in the media, in government, really looks like George Clooney,” he added.


Locsin, meanwhile, reiterated that a “non-negotiable” provision under the COC is that Western powers should not be kept out of the South China Sea.

“Here is the non-negotiable. The Code of Conduct will never expel a Western power from the area because that’s part of our national interest, that’s the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT),” he said.

MDT between the Philippines and the United States mandates the two allies to come to each other’s defense against an armed attack.

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“So with that, you have the assurance of the balance of power in the region,” he added.

TAGS: ASEAN, China, Code of Conduct, Features, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., South China Sea

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