ASEAN targets completion of Code of Conduct within three years

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 4) — The Code of Conduct (COC) that would establish safety and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea despite competing territorial claims is slated for completion in 2022.

The issue of peace and security in the South China Sea was disccused in the ongoing 22nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-China summit, according to the Chairman's statement penned by Thailand.

"We reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea and recognised the benefits of having the South China Sea as a sea of peace, stability and prosperity," the Chairman's statement read.

During the summit, the ASEAN adopted the three-year timeline proposed by China.

"We welcomed the aspiration to conclude the COC within a 3-year timeline as proposed by China or earlier," the Chairman added.

The COC is a legally binding document that would manage how countries act within the South China Sea despite disputing territorial claims. Aside from the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Brunei Malaysia and Vietnam have competing claims in the resource-rich area.

The COC is based on a 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed by China and the 10 ASEAN states.

READ: Progress made in South China Sea Code of Conduct as Beijing eases up on demands – Locsin

In a previous interview, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro "Teddy Boy" Locsin, Jr. said that Beijing has softened its stance on certain provisions in the COC.

These included provisions on Western military presence and oil and gas exploration in the region.

Locsin described the COC as a manual for the "care and feeding of the dragon in your living room," as China continues to assert its dominance in the region through the building of artificial islands and a strong naval presence.

READ: Malacañang: Filipino-manned Liberian tanker allegedly harassed by Chinese is not our concern