China wants faster pace of talks on code of conduct in South China Sea
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday said China wants to hasten talks for a code of conduct in the South China Sea and have it approved within the Philippines’ three-year term as dialogue coordinator between Beijing and Southeast Asian nations.
The Philippines assumed the role of country coordinator in August and its stint will end in 2021.
Wang, who ended his two-day visit to the Philippines, was non-committal when asked if China would agree to a legally-binding code.
“Whether or not it is legally binding any document we have signed we will strictly abide by it and firmly implement it,” Wang told a joint press conference with Philippine counterpart, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., in Davao City.
On August 3, China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which the Philippines and three other South China Sea claimants belong, announced agreement on a single draft South China Sea Code of Conduct negotiating text.
Wang said China “is open-minded on what specific contents will be put into the text.”
“By that we welcome all constructed opinions within the framework of a single text that has been agreed. Through this way we could pull consensus as much as we can,” he said.
Locsin said if ASEAN and China fail to agree to a legally-binding document, the code would still be a significant regional document.
“Perhaps we may not be able to arrive at a legally binding COC, but it will be the standard on how the people of ASEAN, governments of ASEAN will behave towards each other. Always with honor, never with aggression and always for the mutual progress,” Locsin said. DMS