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South China Sea Code of Conduct to Be Discussed at Philippines Meet


Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, May 21, 2015.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in Hague last year ruled in favor of the Philippines in a case it brought in 2013 over disputed islands.

The code of conduct for disputes in the South China Sea between Asean nations and China will be a key topic at the forthcoming Asean summit in the Philippines, analysts have said.

Chheang Vannarith, a regional analyst, said that the Philippines may not reject the code as it may yet be in its interests to remain in the framework.

“There is the possibility to break though for the framework agreement on COC [code of conduct] in the region. We are waiting to see the result of the discussions,” he said.

He added that the COC will ensure claimant countries refrain from conflict and violence in the region.

Achmad Rizal Purnama, first secretary of Indonesian Embassy in Washington, D.C., told VOA Khmer by phone that the purpose of the COC was to prevent conflicts and de-escalate tensions.

“The conclusion of code of conduct is only one vehicle that Asean and China could work together to ensure peace stability and security in the region,” he said.

“But resolving the territory of dispute itself, it is up to the parties concern, parties concern basically at the bilateral issue, It is not a multilateral or regional issue.”

Shihoko Goto a senior researcher at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, questioned whether the meeting would yield a substantial outcome.

“[W]ill it simply just start a meeting or does it lead to tangible result? What are those the tangible results? The tangible result will be for China to stop its land construction for it to actually acknowledge the ruling of the international tribunal?” she said.

“If the forthcoming meeting is about imposing or trying to make it into effect from some of those rulings, then there is a great expectation for that. But I don’t think that is going to necessarily be the case.”

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in Hague last year ruled in favor of the Philippines in a case it brought in 2013 over disputed islands, which China claims have been part of its historical territory for thousands of years.

A diplomat from an Asean country who wished to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to talk to the media, said the code of conduct would be discussed at the upcoming meeting as China had previously given it the green light.

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