DAVAO — State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Philippine counterpart, Teodoro Locsin, pledged joint efforts to advance consultation on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) on Oct 29.
Wang said at a joint news conference with Locsin that under the guidance of the leaders of China and the Philippines, and thanks to joint efforts, the situation in the South China Sea is improving and getting more stable.
“Countries concerned have returned to the track of dialogue and negotiations and consultations to properly handle the differences, together with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, China and these countries are jointly upholding peace and stability in the South China Sea,” Wang said.
Wang, who is on a two-day visit to the Philippines, added that a peaceful and stable South China Sea meets the common interests of the regional countries and that it is the shared aspiration of the regional countries and shared responsibility for all concerned.
MORE EFFORTS NEEDED
Wang said that China will work together with the Philippines and other concerned ASEAN countries to make new breakthroughs in maritime cooperation.
“China is ready to enhance cooperation with the Philippines and other coastal countries along the South China Sea, strengthen cooperation on environmental protection, scientific research, fishery and search and rescue, so as to enhance trust and deliver more benefit to the peoples of the countries. China is also ready to further discuss with the Philippines about joint development of oil and natural gas in the South China Sea,” Wang said.
Wang said that China will work with the Philippines to set up and improve institutions and mechanism for maritime communication.
“Now China and the Philippines have increased interactions on the sea. We should work together to build up the mechanism for such interactions,” Wang said, adding that China is ready to set up similar mechanism with other concerned parties to enhance communication and properly handle emergencies.
“We should work together to speed up the COC consultation,” Wang said, referring to the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, of which a single draft negotiating text has been reached.
Wang said China is ready to work with other ASEAN countries to speed up COC consultation and that China also hopes to conclude the consultation during the term of the Philippines as a country coordinator for China-ASEAN relations.
“So that we can set up a set of regional norms to ensure peace and stability in the South China Sea,” Wang said, adding that China welcomes all constructive opinions within the framework of the single text that has been agreed.
Wang also urged all concerned parties to be vigilant against and prevent interferences and disruptions coming from the outside.
“As China and the Philippines and other coastal countries are cooperating to uphold peace and cooperation in the South China Sea, some non-regional countries are doing things completely counter to our efforts,” Wang warned.
Wang said these countries have never hesitated in stirring up troubles, and making waves in the South China Sea, and they are willful in showing off their forces in the waters.
“Regional countries need to keep high vigilance against these. We must further enhance our solidarity and work together to make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation. By this we will not leave any chance to be exploited by any external forces,” Wang said.
Locsin, Philippine foreign secretary, said the South China Sea issue is not the exclusive one between China and the Philippines. Countries like Indonesia and Malaysia in the ASEAN have the same problem.
“The South China Sea issue should not stand in the way of developing mutually beneficial and friendly relations between China and the Philippines, nor should it stand in the way of developing friendly cooperation between China and ASEAN,” Locsin said.
“We hold fast to our unwavering commitment to the Declaration of Conduct in the South China Sea. Through respectful dialogue with each other and with our partners in ASEAN, we are moving forward with astonishing amity in the negotiations toward a Code of Conduct,” Locsin said.
FIRM SUPPORTS TO THE PHILIPPINES
The friendship between China and the Philippines expands over a thousand years, and many of the peoples in the two countries share the same ancestry, Wang said.
“China has never been, and will never be a rival for the Philippines, and will never be a threat. On the contrary, in the Philippine pursuit of rejuvenation and future development, we stand ready to stand by the Philippines and always be your sincere and trustworthy friend,” Wang said at the news conference.
“China will firmly support the Philippines in speeding up economic and social development. The Philippines is an important link on the Maritime Silk Road, It is a natural partner in the joint building of the Belt and Road. China is ready to actively dovetail with the Philippine development strategy,” he said.
He said China will firmly support the Philippines’ efforts in safeguarding its national security and stability.
“President (Rodrigo) Duterte has launched fights against illicit drugs and terrorism. This is a just cause which is conducive to providing a tranquil environment for the economy and peoples’ lives,” Wang said.
“China is continuing to provide support in terms of assistance in intelligence sharing and capacity building. We are going to speak up for the just causes of the Philippines in the United Nations (UN), UN human rights organizations and other multinational occasions,” Wang told the news conference.
Wang also said China will firmly support the role the Philippines plays in the regional affairs. He noted that this year celebrates the 15th anniversary of China-ASEAN strategic partnership, and that the Philippines has recently taken over the role as the country coordinator for China-ASEAN relations.
“China is ready to work with the Philippines to enhance China-ASEAN relations and East Asia cooperation. China will scale up the input into BIMP-EAGA, the initiative first proposed by the Philippines, which can be a new platform for China-ASEAN cooperation.
The BIMP-EAGA, or the East ASEAN Growth Area, includes Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines. The BIMP-EAGA was launched in 1994 by the four countries to accelerate and balance their economic development.