GUIYANG, Guizhou—A Chinese Foreign Ministry senior official has expressed appreciation to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s support for full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in South China Sea (DOC).
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin made this remark after he and Chee Wee Kiong, Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, co-chaired the 14th China-ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting here Thursday.
During the meeting, China and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) senior officials agreed to complete the negotiations on the draft framework of the Code on Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).
The draft COC framework will be submitted to the foreign ministers during the China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Conference to be held in the Philippines in August this year.
”We highly appreciated and thanked President Duterte for his support on the DOC implementation in its entirety and we also appreciate his support for the COC consultation,” Liu said.
In his October visit to China, President Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping jointly called for full and effective implementation of the DOC in its entirety and promised to work substantively toward the early conclusion of the COC based on consensus.
Liu said President Duterte’s first visit to China in October last year has resulted to a full recovery of China-Philippines relations which encountered enormous difficulties in the last five years.
”The Chinese government highly appreciate the positive, friendly and constructive position about President Duterte in the South China Sea since he took office,” Liu said.
Guided by the two leaders, Liu said China and the Philippines will continue friendly cooperation and exchange of views on the South China Sea through bilateral channels.
”We will continue to manage our differences and enhance maritime cooperation through bilateral channels,” he said.
President Duterte returned to Beijing last May 14 and 15 to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. On the sidelines, President Duterte and Xi held expanded bilateral meeting.
As a result of revived China-Philippines relations, the first meeting of the China-Philippines Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on the South China Sea was set Friday afternoon at the New World Hotel in Guiyang.
Liu and Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana will co-chair the first China-Philippines bilateral meeting on South China Sea under Duterte’s administration.
Former Philippine Consul General Maria Hellen Barber De La Vega to Los Angeles represented the Philippines in the 14th China-ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on the Implementation of the DOC and the 23rd ASEAN-China Senior Officials’ Consultation.
Under the DOC guidance, the parties concerned should undertake measures to resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes through peaceful means, friendly consultations and negotiations, and building of trust and confidence in accordance with international laws.
The parties should also exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability in the region.
The concerned parties are also “stand ready to continue their consultations and dialogues concerning relevant issues through modalities to be agreed by them” for the purpose of promoting good relations, mutual understanding and cooperation and facilitating peaceful resolutions of disputes among them.
The Philippines-China relations hit a snag after the Philippines filed an arbitration case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague in January 2013 to contest China’s ‘nine-dash line’ claim on South China Sea.
A month after President Duterte took his oath as President in June last year, the UN-backed arbitration court released its judgment in favor of the Philippines.
However, President Duterte decided to temporarily shelve the PCA verdict to allow resolution of the maritime dispute through peaceful dialogues and friendly consultations.