Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China have resumed discussions on the long-planned Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea on Tuesday.
Manila is hosting the three-day dialog that gathers diplomats from the region, including those from five out of six claimant counties in the SCS, namely China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia.
Taiwan is also a claimant but is not a member state of ASEAN.
As this developed, Chinese Ambassador to Manila Huang Xilian welcomed the appointment of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. as special envoy to China.
Locsin’s appointment came on the heels of heightened tensions between Manila and Beijing after a China Coast Guard ship fired a water cannon against Philippine Coast Guard vessels en route to Ayungin Shoal for a resupply mission.
Huang likewise renewed his call for Manila and Beijing to peacefully settle maritime disputes.
Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros, however, said Beijing should recall Huang for peaceful talks to prosper, citing the ambassador’s previous statement that was perceived to be a threat against overseas Filipino workers in Taiwan.
nes has been around for a long time,” he said.
For her part, Senator Imee Marcos underscored the need to continue talking to China to resolve maritime disputes but said everything should be documented properly this time around.
“We should document every attempt by our diplomats, Coast Guard, and military personnel to communicate with China to the extent permissible,” she said.
“We should make records of these attempts accessible to neutral third parties so that they may verify our efforts and China’s responses thereto. In this way, the world can ascertain both countries’ sincerity in engaging in genuine dialogue,” she said.
Hammering out a binding COC is one of the efforts to minimize tensions in disputed waters in the region.
Department of Foreign Affairs Office of Maritime and Ocean Affairs Assistant Secretary Maria Angela Ponce is leading the Philippine delegation to the COC talks.
Negotiations on the COC are held twice a year. Jakarta hosted in March the last round of talks.
Source: Manila Standard