MANILA – The Philippines has appealed to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China to fully support and make the disputed South China Sea a “sea of peace, security, stability, and prosperity”.
The statement was made by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. during the Special Asean-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on June 7 in Chongqing, China to mark the 30th anniversary of the two parties’ dialogue relations.
“Sec. Locsin appealed for full support and sincere cooperation to achieve ‘our collective aspiration for the South China Sea to be a sea of peace, security, stability and prosperity; not a moat between the members of the family of Southeast Asian nations but a wide watery highway for trade and connection,'” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday night.
The DFA said both the bloc and China reiterated commitment for the full implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), including the resumption of the negotiations for a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) earlier affected by the pandemic.
As country coordinator, Locsin co-chaired the meeting with China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
The DFA shared that Covid-19 response and recovery were foremost on the agenda, with China pledging continued support to Asean member states in their fight against the pandemic, primarily through the provision of vaccines.
During the meeting, the ministers called for intensified cooperation for economic recovery while highlighting the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as well as the opportunities in the bloc’s Master Plan on Asean Connectivity 2025 and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
In addition, the ministers expressed concern about the situation in Myanmar and encouraged progress in the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus achieved in the April 2021 Asean Leaders’ Meeting.
“Secretary Locsin pushed for dialogue and reconciliation while equally calling for the release and restoration of the status quo ante before the coup, and the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political detainees. In these trying times, the Secretary noted, ‘solidarity and compassion is the path we are taking. It is the rain that grows flowers, not the thunder,'” the DFA said.
Asean is composed of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora