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China confident of Code of Conduct for South China Sea within 3 years

Linda Khoo & Bernama

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Asean and China have finished the first reading of the single draft negotiating text on the Code of Conduct (CoC) in the South China Sea, ahead of schedule, Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, said today.

“This is a major progress and step towards the goal of concluding the consultations within three years.

“On the question of whether China and Asean can reach a consensus on the CoC, my answer is absolutely. China and Asean have successfully finished the first reading ahead of schedule and this shows China and Asean have the ability and wisdom, and will reach consensus on the CoC to develop a regional law.

“Since the start of the consultations, China has been positive and active (in pursuing the CoC)…China proposes to conclude the CoC within three years. This shows China’s active approach to the consultations.

“I have confidence that with 11 countries working together (Asean and China) on the basis of mutual trust, we will be able to achieve our common objective as well as conclude the CoC ahead of schedule,” he said at a press conference, here, today.

The first reading of the text was streamlined so that the framework and essential elements of the text become clearer and the structure more reasonable.

The Declaration on the Conduct (DoC) of Parties in the South China Sea, signed by China and Asean in 2002, outlines the important principles in the management of disputes on the South China Sea.

In 2013, consultations for the CoC were launched. Both are aimed at safeguarding peace and stability in the region.

In August 2017, China and Asean approved the framework of the CoC in the South China Sea. In August 2018, China and Asean countries arrived at a single draft negotiating text of the CoC in the South China Sea.

On the question of whether the CoC would work effectively, Wang Yi said: “There is no doubt about it.”

“The CoC is an upgraded version of DoC. It will work more effectively and better respond to the needs of the region.

“Conclusion of the CoC will not hurt the non-regional countries. However, it will only safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea, and increase cooperation and freedom of navigation,” he said.

He also urged non-regional countries to support and respect the implementation of the CoC and to play a constructive role in regional peace.

Earlier, Wang Yi and the Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary, Teodoro L. Locsin Jr co-chaired the Asean-China Ministerial Meeting in conjunction with the 52nd Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM).

- Bernama