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DFA urged to work with Vietnam on Code of Conduct in S. China Sea

/ 05:20 AM January 03, 2019

Former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to work with Vietnam to block pro-China provisions in the proposed Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.

As negotiations for a COC between the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China resume early this year, Del Rosario warned that China would use the agreement to legitimize its weaponized artificial islands in the disputed sea.

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Exercise vigilance

“We will need to exercise utmost vigilance in ensuring that the COC is not utilized by Beijing for the purpose of protecting what has been declared as being unlawful by the arbitral tribunal, which is now an integral part of international law,” Del Rosario said on Wednesday.

“Clearly, it would be a constructive move to consult with Vietnam to give us an opportunity to share and appreciate each other’s views, which could lead to an agreed plan of action that is beneficial not only to both countries but to others as well,” he added.

He said the Philippines should support certain positions taken by Vietnam in its negotiating draft COC namely:

Banning any new air defense identification zone in which all aircraft must identify themselves to Chinese authorities;

Clarifying maritime entitlements in accordance with international law;

Blocking a proposal by China to ban military drills in the South China Sea with countries outside the region unless all signatories agree; and

Blocking Beijing’s proposal to exclude foreign oil firms by limiting joint development deals to China and Southeast Asia.

Asean consensus needed

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“An Asean consensus on the aforementioned specifics, if achieved, will serve to demonstrate to the world that the 10 Asean states as a solid body are willing to strongly uphold its centrality and not allow itself to be bullied and bribed,” Del Rosario stressed.

Asean and China officially started negotiations for a sea code in November 2017.

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