PHL-China to complete framework for code of conduct in South China Sea by mid-2017

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is optimistic that the framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea will be completed within the country’s chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit this year.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said they hoped to finish the framework of the code within target by mid-2017.

“There is a strong level of commitment between the ASEAN and China to discuss and complete this framework of the code of conduct,” he said in a press briefing.

Bolivar said the ASEAN and China would then start negotiating for the actual code after coming up with the framework.

“That will be the basis for the negotiation of the actual code of conduct,” he said.

The code of conduct was meant to manage territorial disputes in the South China Sea in a peaceful way.

Several countries have made competing claims over the South China Sea, including China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan.

Bolivar said the South China Sea will remain to be among the important topics to be discussed by the leaders of ASEAN members when they meet here next week.

“ASEAN wants to maintain centrality as a peaceful force in the region. Definitely, all these issues which are causing tensions right now, I’m sure will be discussed by the leaders,” Bolivar said.

The country will host the 30th ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings from April 26 to 29.  He said a chairman statement will be issued after next week’s summit and meetings.

ASEAN member states also include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Bolivar said China would participate in ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings slated in November. (PNA)