PH, Vietnam pledge progress on South China Sea code of conduct

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 18) — The Philippines and Vietnam have vowed to push for the completion of the South China Sea code of conduct and strengthen their maritime ties, as both nations expressed “serious concern” over aggressive actions that threaten peace in the region.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Philippines and Vietnam committed to working closely to come up with “an effective and substantive” code of conduct on the disputed waters.

The code is envisioned to prevent any armed confrontation in the contested waterway, in which China, Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei have overlapping territorial claims.

“The Philippines and Vietnam had the opportunity to exchange views on the situation in the South China Sea," the DFA said, following the two Southeast Asian nations’ two-day meeting on maritime issues. "The two countries expressed serious concern over unilateral activities that undermine peace and stability in the region."

Delegations from Manila and Hanoi held the 10th meeting of the Philippines-Vietnam Joint Permanent Working Group on Maritime and Ocean Concerns on May 15 and 16 in Ha Long, Vietnam. 

Previous reports showed China’s bullying and aggression against some Asian countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia. China also has a conflict with Taiwan as Beijing claims the island as part of its territory.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier said the Philippine government would initiate talks with Vietnam regarding recent maritime disputes.

READ: Marcos eyes PH-Vietnam agreement amid maritime disputes

In March, the Philippine Coast Guard reported that there were Vietnamese vessels and 20 other Chinese ships spotted in waters off Sabina and Ayungin shoals.

According to the DFA, both countries also agreed to work closely in protecting their rights and interests under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Assistant Secretary for Maritime and Ocean Affairs Maria Angela Ponce, the head of the Philippine delegation, said discussions with their counterparts were “critical in strengthening the friendship and strategic partnership between the Philippines and Vietnam.”

She added that the two nations “work towards promoting peace, stability, and prosperity in the region.”