Beijing: We are keeping peace, tranquility
JAKARTA—President Marcos on Wednesday directly told Chinese Premier Li Qiang that the Philippines would press on with its claim to the West Philippine Sea, as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).
For his part, Li maintained that China has upheld peace and tranquility in the Asia-Pacific region despite escalating tensions in the area.
Mr. Marcos made the statement at the 43rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit with China as he also thanked Beijing for its cooperation with the group, saying it has helped the region grow. He stressed, however, that growth was only possible with peace.
“We must emphasize that practical cooperation in the maritime domain can only flourish with an enabling environment of regional peace, security and stability, anchored in international law. The Philippines therefore continues to uphold the primacy of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as the framework within which all activities in the seas and oceans are conducted,” the President said.
“We once again reaffirm our commitment to the rule of law and peaceful settlement of disputes,” he added.
Marcos reminded Li and the other Asean leaders that the Philippines just hosted the last negotiations on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea in Manila, which he said showed progress.
“The early conclusion of an effective and substantive COC that is in accordance with international law, including the 1982 Unclos, remains the goal for Asean and for China,” he said. Silent on harassment
In his opening speech at the Asean-China Summit, Li told regional leaders that Beijing was determined to maintain peace in the region, stressing that, “We both have a relentless pursuit of peace, we both have a strong aspiration for development, and we both take real actions to preserve regional stability.”
“We seek common ground while setting aside differences, properly handle disagreements through dialogue and consultation, and consistently deepen practical cooperation in traditional and nontraditional security views. We have preserved peace and tranquility in east Asia in a world [fraught] with turbulence and change,” he said.
He made no mention, however, of China’s acts of harassment in the West Philippine Sea, such as the water cannon attack on Filipino boats by Chinese coast guard vessels in August. The incident drew international condemnation from Philippine allies, including the United States which branded the attack as a threat to regional security.
Instead, Li touted the relationship between Asean and China, which he said was the very first country to establish a strategic partnership with the regional group.
He said that Beijing also “took the lead to elevate the relationship to a comprehensive, strategic partnership in 2021, and that is the testament to our strategic trust between our two sides.”