Premier Li to work for code of conduct on S.China Sea during Philippine visit

2017-11-12 23:10:26 | From:

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Manila on Sunday for an official visit to the Philippines. He will attend a series of leaders' meetings on East Asian cooperation, including talks on the framework of the Code of Conduct (COC) for the South China Sea, which is likely to be approved by China andASEANcountries' leaders, experts said Sunday.

During his five-day stay, Li is scheduled to attend the 20thChina-ASEAN(the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) (10+1) leaders' meeting, the 20th ASEAN-China, Japan and South Korea (10+3) leaders' meeting and the 12th East Asia Summit, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Li's visit is the first to the Philippines by a Chinese premier in 10 years, Xinhua reported.

The leaders of China and ASEAN, which include four member states directly involved in the South China Sea territorial disputes, are expected to announce the start of negotiations on the COC using a framework that their foreign ministers endorsed in August, The Philippine Star reported on Sunday.

"The COC is not a solution to the dispute but aims to prevent conflict between the countries who are involved. This framework will be approved by the countries' leaders and then negotiations can start," said Xu Liping, a senior research fellow with the National Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The framework is expected to be endorsed by China and ASEAN countries at a summit in Manila on Monday, a diplomat from one ASEAN country told the Reuters.

The next step is for China and ASEAN to start formal consultations and negotiations on the COC. The earliest of those talks can begin in February 2018, the unnamed diplomat said.

"During the negotiation, China and ASEAN countries need to prevent intervention from non-regional forces. China needs to make its presence in the region benefit other countries and not let the disputes interrupt pragmatic cooperation with ASEAN. This way non-regional powers like the US and Japan will have less chance to intervene," Xu told the Global Times.

"If I can help mediate or arbitrate, please let me know," US President Donald Trump said in comments at a meeting in Hanoi with Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang. "I'm a very good mediator and arbitrator," Reuters quoted him as saying on Sunday.

Few are taking Trump's offer seriously given the ongoing interference by the US in the dispute. "The US is not qualified to arbitrate the dispute," Chu Yin, associate professor at the University of International Relations, told the Global Times.

"In fact, the dispute between China and Southeast Asian countries has been largely impacted by the US, and Trump's offer only shows that the US will continue to intervene in the issue."

Newspaper headline: Li to work for code of conduct on sea

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