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Marcos to Asean: ‘Some progress’ in talks for Code of Conduct in South China Sea

PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Wednesday reported before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) that there have been “some progress” in the negotiations for a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea which, he said, is in accordance with international law.

In his intervention during the 26th Asean-China Summit held in Jakarta, Indonesia, Marcos cited that “milestone issues and a preliminary review of the Single Draft Negotiating Text” were achieved in Manila “a few weeks ago.”

“The early conclusion of an effective and substantive CoC that is in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, remains the goal for Asean and for China,” the Chief Executive told the audience, which included other Asean leaders and Chinese Premier Li Qiang during the 26th Asean-China Summit.

This was echoed by Malaysia and Singapore, which also pushed for the finalization of the CoC during the meeting.

It was also a reiteration of his previous remark at the 43rd Asean Summit Retreat that all stakeholders “should never allow the international order to be subjected to the forces of might applied for a hegemonic ambition.”

Marcos said that the Philippines is committed to continue working with all countries to foster a rules-based international order, as well as in upholding and exercising freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The Philippines is not seeking conflict but will always rise to meet challenges to its sovereignty, sovereign rights, and maritime jurisdiction in the South China Sea, he further stated.

“The Philippines firmly rejects misleading narratives that frame the disputes in the South China Sea solely through the lens of strategic competition between two powerful countries. This not only denies us of our independence and agency, but also disregards our own legitimate interests,” the President said.

Marcos called for self-restraint on activities that complicate disputes in the region and undermine regional peace, stability, and security, underscoring that actions, not words, should be the ultimate measure of their commitment to securing peace and stability.

“We therefore seek your support for the operationalization of practical measures such as the ADMM Guidelines for Maritime Interaction, which we envision will be expanded to our external partners in due time,” he said.

Meanwhile, the President likewise pointed out that the ongoing Asean-China Free Trade Area 3.0 upgrade negotiations will encourage stronger ties between the regional bloc and China, saying it's the hope that the regional bloc has identified and leveraged complementarities between China's initiative and the Asean outlook on the Indo-Pacific.

He also underscored the need to enhance Asean connectivity and supply chain, stressing that among the priority areas of the AOIP, maritime cooperation is especially significant to the Philippines as an archipelagic nation.

“We must emphasize that practical cooperation in the maritime domain can only flourish with an enabling environment of regional peace, security, and stability, anchored in international law,” he said.

“The Philippines therefore continues to uphold the primacy of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as the framework within which all activities in the seas and oceans are conducted. We once again reaffirm our commitment to the rule of law and peaceful settlement of disputes,” he added.

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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