CHINA wants to complete the consultation on the code of conduct for the disputed South China Sea (SCS) by 2021.
This was revealed by Chinese Ambassador to Manila Huang Xilian as he explained that while the pandemic has temporarily delayed the consultation process, China, the Philippines, as the coordinator of China-ASEAN relations, and other ASEAN countries have been maintaining communication on resuming the COC consultation.
He said a recent working level online meeting was held successfully.
Under the current situation, China hopes that all parties will work harder to speed up the negotiation in a flexible and pragmatic way.
China has proposed to hold face-to-face consultations in China once conditions permit to push forward the second reading of the COC.
“China is willing to continue to strengthen practical cooperation at South China Sea with the Philippines and promote joint development of oil and gas so as to bring tangible benefits to our two peoples,” Huang said.
What is worth paying attention to is that the world has entered the information age, and data has become the most important “oil and gas ” in the era of digital economy, the Ambassador added.
Huang stressed that China and the Philippines have mutual advantages in the field of digital economy and have a broad room for cooperation.
The two countries should not only promote the traditional joint development of offshore oil and gas, but also vigorously expand cooperation in the field of digital economy, he stressed.
“Finally, I would like to emphasize that resolving disputes through dialogue is the right path that is most in line with the interests of the countries in the region, and maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea is our common task and aspiration.”
“Regarding the proper handling of the South China Sea dispute between China and the Philippines, I would like to emphasize several points:
First, we must earnestly implement the principles and consensus reached by the two heads of state on the South China Sea issue. This is the foundation for China-Philippines relations to maintain a healthy and stable development.
Second, we should avoid misjudgment caused by unilateral actions that would complicate the situation in the disputed waters.
Third, we should continue to maintain close communication on maritime issues through existing dialogue channels such as the BCM and avoiding media speculation. At the same time, we should promote the establishment of a bilateral maritime and air liaison mechanism to deal with maritime emergencies in a more timely and effective manner,” he said.
ASEAN and China agreed in August 2018 to a single draft of the COC, with an agreement reached in November 2018 for both sides to finalize the document within three years, starting from 2019.
China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan are locked in decades-long disputes over the South China Sea, which is believed rich in oil and gas reserves.