Chinese Embassy Spokesperson on Code of Conduct in the South China Sea
2020/09/18
 

Q: It was reported that Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr., and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi co-chaired the ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting by video conference. During the meeting, Secretary Locsin reiterated the Philippines' commitment to push forward negotiations towards an effective and substantive Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea and said "it is imperative to bring everyone back to the negotiating table to demonstrate to the world that we are sincerely committed and determined to arrive at a conclusive result, one way or the other, but we must get down to sincere and serious work." Do you have any comments?

A: It is the common interests of China and ASEAN countries to maintain the peace and stability in the South China Sea. Through concerted efforts, China and ASEAN countries have maintained overall stability in the South China Sea over the past years through a dual track approach. On the one hand, the countries directly concerned have effectively managed their territory and maritime disputes and steadily carried out dialogue and cooperation on maritime issues through various bilateral mechanism. Good progress has been achieved.

On the other hand, China and ASEAN countries are committed to the full and effective implementation of the Declaration of Conducts of Parties(DOC) and to advancing consultations on the Code of Conduct(COC). On the COC consultations, China is sincere in its attitude and firm in resolve. It was in November 2018 that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang first proposed to conclude the COC consultations within three years by 2021,which was agreed by ASEAN leaders. We are happy to see that good headway has been made with the completion of the first reading of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text (SDNT) and the commencement of the second reading of the SDNT last year.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic slows down the process of COC consultations, China and ASEAN countries are trying to make up for the time lost. Under the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries, especially the Philippines as the Coordinator of China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations and co-chair of the COC consultations, we have resumed the working group meeting on COC through an on-line video conference on September 3.

At the same time, we should also recognize that there are still some challenges in the consultations of COC. Apart part from the difficulties caused by the pandemic, certain country outside the region is bent on interfering in the disputes of the South China Sea and the COC consultations to serve its own geopolitical agenda. How to resist the interference is crucial for pushing forward the future consultations of COC.

China appreciates the Philippines' commitment to push forward negotiations towards an effective and substantive COC in the South China Sea. We firmly believe that with the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries, the COC would be able to be finalized at the earliest, contributing to the peace and stability in the South China Sea.

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