December 7, 2022 | 6:45 p.m
MANILA, Philippines – The State Department claims that member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China are “very far from” finalizing the South China Sea code of conduct.
The document needs to be given a second reading, although there is no deadline for that yet.
“We have completed the preamble portion of this document, but I would like to inform you that there is an unwritten agreement between ASEAN member states and China that nothing is complete until everything is complete,” Noel Novicio, Deputy Assistant Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the FDFA’s Office for ASEAN Affairs said in a press conference on Wednesday.
He said some of the ASEAN member states would prefer to hold face-to-face negotiations to discuss the document, adding he was confident talks would resume “next year”. Leaders appear to have “committed” to expediting the completion of the COC as long as it is based on international law.
However, he noted that 11 member states are committed to finalizing the document.
The Philippines hosted the 10th Enhanced ASEAN Marine Forum and the 12th ASEAN Marine Forum, which Novicio said are also part of the country’s commemoration of UNCLOS.
“Among the topics currently being debated and debated were our inventory of maritime activities in ASEAN, the review of the implementation of UNCLOS on its 40th anniversary, the exchange of views on regional maritime developments, information-sharing mechanisms and the fight against IUUF or illegal, not reported , and unregulated fishing in the region,” he said.
Scientists and representatives from ASEAN member states and eight dialogue partners take part in the forums. Novicio said problems in the South China Sea were also being discussed.