China, ASEAN OK draft code of conduct in S. China Sea

Remigio Civitarese
Giugno 1, 2017

"I'm sure it will be a very important point of discussion in future consultations", he said, suggesting that Thursday's framework agreement is likely a general agreement.

"China said if we remain friends, it said, 'We will talk about the arbitral ruling".

Recto Bank is vital to Philippine national interest, as it is the only replacement for Malampaya, which supplies 40 percent of the energy requirement of Luzon.

Under the Philippines' chairmanship of ASEAN, China's relative bargaining position has clearly improved with the Southeast Asian grouping.

Regardless of the ruling in favor of the Philippines, the next Philippine leader, Rodrigo Duterte, has declared his "realignment" with China and has agreed that China and the Philippines should hold joint naval drills, even though he did order the Philippine Navy to boost its presence on the islands under Philippine control.

China, he pointed out, has no veto in the General Assembly. All sides agreed not to use threats or force to assert claims.

The Philippines is likely to seek a permanent freeze on China's activities in the South China Sea, according to Zhang Baohui, a professor of political science at Hong Kong's Lingnan University - something that would legitimize the roots China has put down there.

Gordon stressed President Du-terte's recent efforts to "fix" relations with Beijing should not be taken to mean he "abandoned our claim".

"(T) he President can not simply do nothing, or worse, acquiesce to China's action, for inaction is the opposite of protecting Philippine EEZ", Carpio, an expert on the issue, said.

He added that when the Philippine government gives the green light to resume all explorations within its territory, Malacañang can invoke worldwide law and the United Nations.

For Magdalo party-list group Rep. Gary Alejano, Duterte acts like a Chinese propagandist on the territorial dispute.

The Chinese government replied that its claims were "historical", according to Duterte.

"We intend to drill oil there, if it's yours, well, that's your view, but my view is, I can drill the oil, if there is some inside the bowels of the earth because it is ours", Duterte said in a speech, recalling his conversation with Xi.

Duterte said, "Now that he is no longer in office, Del Rosario keeps talking".

"Generally, the situation has eased in terms of tensions between the Philippines and China", he said, citing regained access by Philippine fishermen to Scarborough Shoal after years of being blocked by Chinese ships.

He said, "The safety measure is that we avoid trouble".

The draft framework for the CoC came as the Philippines, which chairs this year's ASEAN meetings, started a bilateral consultation with Beijing on Friday over their competing claims in the resource-rich sea.

Duterte has orchestrated a staggering reversal of Philippine foreign policy toward China, choosing not to confront Beijing over the South China Sea, but to tap it for billions of dollars of loans and investments for infrastructure, the backbone of his economic agenda. "The ruling is now part of worldwide law and we can always invoke it as part of global law jurisprudence", Villacorta told The STAR.

India and Singapore, both notably underrepresented or absent from the One Belt One Road summit, began major military exercises in the South China Sea this week. Despite Duterte's optimism, foreign affairs secretary Alan Cayetano says, "we don't expect moving mountains".

"It's not the chairman's statement, it's the Chinese statement", he added.

Image: An aerial view of China occupied Subi Reef at Spratly Islands in disputed South China Sea April 21, 2017.

A code of conduct is the key objective of a 2002 Declaration on Conduct, large parts of which China has ignored, particularly a commitment not to occupy or reclaim uninhabited features.

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