In his speech during the Vin d' Honneur he hosted for members of the diplomatic corps, Locsin said the Philippines will assume the role "while recognizing differences and never compromising one’s respective core interests".
"Reefs underwater when the tide is in and jutting out a few feet when the tide is out, need not block our mutually beneficial endeavors. Through respectful dialogue, we are happy to announce, as we cross our fingers in hope, that we are moving forward with astonishing amity in negotiations toward a Code of Conduct," he said.
The two parties are working towards the early conclusion of the COC, which is aimed at defusing tensions in the strategic waterway, where China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, and the Philippines have overlapping territorial claims.
The 10 ASEAN member-states take turns in serving as a country coordinator for the bloc's numerous dialogue relationships. In August 2018, the Philippines was assigned to the ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations.
Meanwhile, Locsin said the Philippines' way of handling its territorial claim in the West Philippine Sea with other littoral states "continues to produce concrete results at no cost to our dignity."
"The country was able to advance its interests, derive economic benefit, and contribute to peace and stability in the South China Sea, without surrendering an iota of Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights, not retreating one inch from its rightful and inalienable ownership of everything within the lawful territorial reach of our sovereignty," he said.
He said there are disputes and differences, and "more may arise," but these are "inevitable" in the politics among nations.
"These differences may disappear in time. They may be resolved in a timely fashion before conflict breaks out. Or they may never be resolved. But, as I said before, the wise and elegant Chinese foreign minister, these differences need not stand in the way of mutually beneficial cooperation in other areas of common endeavor," he said.