Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China started to resume Tuesday, August 22, the rounds of negotiations on the possible Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.
Manila would be hosting the three-day talks, which would gather diplomats from 12 countries. Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Office of Maritime and Ocean Affairs Assistant Secretary Maria Angela Ponce is leading the Philippine delegation.
DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo in July said he was looking forward to having an “effective and substantive” COC amid developments in the South China Sea, which prompted Manalo to call for an “effective management and peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law.”
Pressure is on for diplomats of participating countries as tension started rising in the South China Sea. Early in August, China hit Philippine personnel with a water cannon as the latter were on a resupply mission in the Ayungin Shoal, which is located in the West Philippine Sea that is part of the bigger South China Sea.
Participating countries include the Philippines, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, Brunei, Laos and Myanmar.
The Philippines, China, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei have claims over parts of the South China Sea. Meanwhile, Indonesia clashes with China over fishing rights in Natuna Islands, located in the southern part of the disputed water.
The legal binding and the definition of terms are among those expected to be discussed before participating countries come up with COC.
“We are negotiating a Code of Conduct precisely because we would like to prevent incidents such as the last one at the Ayungin Shoal from happening,” the DFA said.
Negotiations on the COC are being held several times a year. Jakarta hosted in March 2023 the last rounds of talks, the 38th meeting of the Joint Working Group; while Vietnam hosted the 39th meeting in May the same year.
Ma. Teresita Daza, DFA spokesperson, in March said the meeting would “continue the negotiation and deliberation on the single negotiated text of the COC.” She added the JWG would deliberate “on the same text on the general provisions.”
Source : ManilaBulletin