(Eagle News) — China is now pushing for an ASEAN-China framework on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, which will hopefully prevent the escalating of tensions in the region and promote the peaceful settlement of maritime disputes there.
This was bared by Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo in a press conference in Thailand where he also revealed that China and Philippines have already established a “bilateral mechanism” where both countries can talk and discuss issues on the South China Sea.
-Bilateral mechanism set up
“We will also be having a chance to talk to China face to face on issues such as the South China Sea. We agreed to establish a bilateral mechanism with China to discuss issues like the South China Sea,” Manalo said in the press conference which was also attended by other members of the Philippine delegation that accompanied President Rodrigo Duterte in Thailand.
Manalo said it was a “good sign” that China is now interested in pushing for a framework on th Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
In fact, he said, China is also hosting in May the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – China Declaration on the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).
Manalo said that the framework on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea is very important to peacefully and diplomatically settle disputes in the South China Sea.
‘First of all the framework involves China. So it is an ASEAN-China framework for a code of conduct,” he said.
-China to host ASEAN-China DOC on South China Sea in May
Manalo explained that because China will be involved in the negotiations itself on the framework, it would have to take into accounts the “the concerns of the other 11 ASEAN countries.”
“So yun ang inaasahan namin. (This is what we are expecting),” he said.
“All I can say is that it was a good sign that China herself is very interested in getting a framework,” he said.
Manalo said this also meant that China was interested in preventing escalating tensions in the disputed South China Sea region.
He said that China is also interested in managing tensions in the region peacefully.
“We are coming up with this framework as soon as possible,” Manalo said.
He said that maybe by May when China hosts the ASEAN-China DOC, “we have made significant progress.”
“We do not want to have actions that will tend to escalate tensions in the region. It’s time to move now to have a real discussion on the code,” he said.
The Philippines hopes that there would be an agreement on this framework on the code of conduct in the South China Sea this year as the country hosts the historic 50th ASEAN Summit.