Beijing’s ‘good faith’ needed for SCS code to work–del Rosario

BEIJING should participate in
“good faith” if the proposed Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)
Code of Conduct (COC) on the South China Sea is going to work, according to a
former Philippine diplomat.

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary
Albert del Rosario said in a statement that China already had a record of
“duplicitous behavior” which will not reach a compromise in the COC.

“Even if an acceptable COC is
instituted, it will be for naught if China will continuously undermine the COC
on the ground,” del Rosario said in a statement shared with the media on the
eve of the Asean Summit in Bangkok.

He said this duplicity of China
was seen in its “lip service” to the United Nations Convention on the Law of
the Sea (Unclos) ruling in 2016 while “openly rejecting” the award.

The award pertained to The
South China Sea Arbitration or The Republic of Philippines
v. The
People’s Republic of China, PCA
Case 
2013-19.

It clarified the maritime
entitlements under the Unclos of China, the Philippines, and all the other
coastal states in the South China Sea.

Further, del Rosario said under
the 2002 Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, China
promised not to complicate or escalate the dispute.

The declaration included
refraining from inhabiting uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other
features in the disputed waters.

However, he said, China continued
its “massive and illegal land reclamation and artificial island-building” in
the South China Sea.

“The practical reality is that
for the COC to work, China in particular should participate in the COC in good
faith. This point needs to be stated because of China’s record of duplicitous
behavior: that is, claiming to abide by an agreement but doing otherwise on the
ground,” del Rosario said.

Del Rosario said the Unclos award
is important for all Asean member-states which border the South China Sea.

To honor the ruling, the
Philippines should be consistent in taking a “rightful position” to reject a
COC that does not highlight the importance of the award, according to del
Rosario.

President Duterte is expected to
once again raise the need for a COC in the South China Sea in the 35th Asean
Summit and Related Summits in Thailand this week.

Foreign Affairs Assistant
Secretary Junever M. Mahilum-West told Palace reporters on Monday that it is
“unavoidable” the COC will be discussed by the world leaders in one of the
meetings during the Asean Summit.

Mahilum-West also said the issue
on the COC will be discussed in all three pillars of cooperation: political
security, economic and sociocultural.

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