Xi reiterates China's commitment to finish COC in South China Sea within 3 years
Visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping reaffirmed on Tuesday China's commitment to reach a conclusion on the Code of Conduct (COC) consultation on the South China Sea within three years.
Xi made the remarks during the joint press statement with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacanang after their expanded bilateral meeting and witnessing the exchanges of 29 signed deals between the two countries.
"China and the Philippines have a lot of common interests in the South China Sea," he said.
"We will continue to manage contentious issues and promote maritime cooperation through friendly consultation and we will work alongside other ASEAN countries towards the conclusion of the COC consultations based on consensus within three years and contribute our share to peace, stability, and the welfare in this region," Xi stressed.
Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, during the recently concluded ASEAN-China Summit in Singapore, first made the commitment to finalize the COC within three years.
The Philippines, as well as other ASEAN countries, such as Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam, has overlapping claim with China in the South China Sea.
The Philippines has been designated as the coordinator of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations for three years.
Duterte, in the joint statement, thanked Xi for his support to Philippine regional initiatives.
"I personally conveyed to President Xi my appreciation for his valuable support for the Philippines’ many initiatives in regional and international spheres, particularly during our ASEAN chairmanship last year and the Philippines’ current Country Coordinatorship of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations leading to a sustainable Code of Conduct," he said.
He vowed to continue working closely with Xi.
"With mutual respect, sincerity, and adherence to sovereign equality, I will continue to work closely with President Xi to deepen the relationship between our great countries so we may together secure a peaceful and prosperous future for both our peoples and for the entire region," Duterte said.
In the same statement, Xi urged the Philippines to join in resisting protectionism. He was apparently referring to US protectionism.
"Faced with the big issues of peace and development, China and the Philippines must join hands to uphold the interests of the developing world, resist protectionism and unilateralism, and promote peace, stability and prosperity in our region and beyond," he said.
Xi has been in the Philippines for a two-day state visit upon Duterte's invitation. Celerina Monte/DMS