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 [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • Government hits back at threats to pull EBA, suspend UN seat

    The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has said the government is in no way concerned after the European Parliament gave it three months to reverse what it called the “systematic repression of the political opposition”. Ignoring the ultimatum could mean facing

  • Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

    Some within the Kingdom’s tourism industry have speculated that the recent influx of Chinese visitors may hinder domestic tourism as the price of accommodations in the coastal city of Sihanoukville continues to rise. Preah Sihanouk province, which has become a hotbed for Chinese investment

  • Sar Kheng: Sokha requested security

    Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Sunday revealed the story behind the transfer of former opposition party leader Kem Sokha from Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province to his house in the capital. Speaking at the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) headquarters in Prey

  • ‘Dire consequences’ from sanctions, warns AmCham

    American businesspeople in Cambodia have warned that any sanction against the Kingdom would have “dire consequences” that could push Cambodia even further into the arms of China. In a letter to US senators and representatives dated Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia (AmCham) said