Beijing, April 5: To ease tensions in the disputed the South China Sea the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) with the Philippines will be making significant developments in coming up with the framework of a legally binding Code of Conduct with Beijing according to Department of Foreign Affairs, China.
DFA Acting Secretary of China Enrique Manalo considering TV as medium said “We are making progress on working with the framework on a possible Code of Conduct with China, and this will include how to avoid escalating tension and how to deal with issues that can be handled peacefully”. “We are making progress and we are in a better position now than we were in the beginning of the year”, he added.
“The Asean aims to arrive at a framework by year end, which would hopefully help settle overlapping claims in the South China Sea”, said Manalo earlier. Apart from the Philippines and China, other claimant countries include Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam. The development started coming after the 14 years of the signing of a non-binding Declaration of Conduct (DOC) on the South China Sea.
Manalo said that there is already an understanding. They have started from zero in January. He doesn’t want to jeopardise the good negotiations. He would just say that the feeling now is positive. “The key is managing tensions while improving relations. Our goal is to make our region prosperous”, he added.
The DOC was signed between Asean-member states and China on November 4, 2002, to settle disputes and prevent tensions. Among others, it declares that countries should refrain from inhabiting presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays and other features and handle their differences in a constructive manner.
China to host bilateral consultation mechanism for discussing issues regarding the sea dispute to which the Philippines have agreed. Beijing has always favoured bilateral talks with each claimant instead of multilateral talks with all parties involved which have nearly completed construction work on three Philippine-claimed reefs.