DFA Assistant Secretary for ASEAN Affairs Ma. Hellen Barber-De La Vega recognized sentiments it took time for Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members and China to proceed from the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the WPS/SCS to the current agreement on framework for COC.
“I think we should give it a chance. I think there is a consensus among all of us in the region that these are uncertain times. What is important is to be able to provide stability, continuity and predictability in managing the tension in the region,” she said in an interview.
Barber-De La Vega noted the COC has to be anchored on the rule of law and on the shared value for peace and stability.
ASEAN members and China completed the framework on the code of conduct for managing the dispute in the WPS/SCS on May 19 in Guiyang, Guizhou Province in Southwest China.
The DFA official said the COC is “going to build upon the existing DOC”.
Parties signed the DOC in the SCS in 2002 to resolve territorial dispute peacefully.
“Just to emphasize, this is just a framework. It is the beginning towards the conclusion of the COC,” noted Barber-De La Vega.
She said they expect to submit the completed COC framework to the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN and China during their meeting in Manila in August for their consideration.
“If it gets approved, immediately in earnest, we will begin working on, fleshing out the details of the COC,” she added.
Countries that have also made competing claims over parts or all of the WPS/SCS are the Philippines, China, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan.