Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Progress on South China Sea code

Progress on South China Sea code

Progress on South China Sea code

120524_05

Protesters chant anti-China slogans as they march towards the Chinese consulate in Manila’s Makati financial district earlier this month in the Philippines. Photograph: Reuters

An Asean working group yesterday finalised key elements of a Code of Conduct aimed at governing relations between countries who claim sovereignty over parts of the South China Sea, officials said.

The waters, rich in natural resources and prized as a shipping route, figured prominently at the ASEAN summit hosted last month by Cambodia, as China and ASEAN members Vietnam and the Philippines have aggressively contested ownership over portions of the waters.

The most recent stand-off in the sea began in early April when the Philippines claimed Chinese fishing boats were illegally going after protected species in a shoal about 100 miles west of the country’s coast.

Raul Hernandez, a foreign affairs spokesman for the Philippines, told the Associated Press that the number of Chinese vessels at Scarborough Shoal increased to 96 on Tuesday.

He said that the Philippines has only two vessels there. Both countries lay claim to the area.

While approximately 50 officials from ASEAN convened for yesterday’s meeting at Phnom Penh’s Intercontinental Hotel, they were largely mum about what was discussed.

“The working group has concluded all key elements for drafting the COC and hopefully, the drafting of the COC will be adopted…and ASEAN will take it to negotiate with China,” said Cambodia’s Nong Sakal, deputy director-general of ASEAN’s General Department at the Foreign Ministry.

“During the meeting, we discussed only the wording that is going to be used and need to find out the consensus for further implementation of the COC,” Nong Sakal said, adding that the COC is a tool for building confidence, cooperation and friendship between ASEAN and China.

Philippines working group representative Henry Bensurto declined to elaborate on the key elements that his group proposed at the meeting.

The final draft is expected at China’s door by July, according to Carlyle Thayer, an emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia who has studied the issue closely.

He said are three likely outcomes.

“They reach a compromise and submit it to China and it is accepted. They reach an agreement that the Philippines won’t accept,” and lastly, an agreement goes to China and negotiations continue indefinitely.

To contact the reporter on this story: Vong Sokheng at sokheng.vong@phnompenhpost.com

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all

  • A ‘one-party dictatorship’: World reacts to CNRP decision as PM says China will fill gaps left by sanctions

    As international condemnation of the Supreme Court decision to dissolve the main opposition party continued to pour in yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen invited the United States and its allies to withdraw aid to the Kingdom, citing confidence in China’s continued support. Perhaps the