Philippines urged to work with Vietnam on South China Sea code

Woody Island, also called Yongxing Island in China and Phu Lam Island in Vietnam, is the largest of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. In May 2018, Beijing landed H-6K strategic bomber on the island, which is also being claimed by Hanoi. Vietnam has been tough on its position against China’s militarization of the disputed waterway.
CSIS/AMTI via DigitalGlobe

By Patricia Lourdes Viray/philstar.com – The Philippine government should support Vietnam’s position on negotiations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said.

Del Rosario earlier warned that Beijing might use the COC in legitimizing its artificial islands in the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea.

According to report from Reuters, Vietnam has been pushing for provisions on the agreement that would outlaw many of China’s actions in the disputed waterways.

“Clearly, it would be a constructive move to consult with Vietnam to give us an opportunity to share and appreciate each other’s views which could lead to an agreed plan of action that is beneficial not only to both countries but to others as well,” Del Rosario said in a stament released Wednesday.

A supposed negotiating draft of the COC seen by Reuters shows that Hanoi wants to ban any new Air Defense Identification Zone in the area.

Vietnam is pushing for clarification of maritime entitlements within international law, blocking China’s proposal to ban military drills in the South China Sea with outside countries unless agreed upon by signatories.

Hanoi also reportedly opposes Beijing’s proposal to limit joint development deals to China and ASEAN member states by excluding foreign oil firms.

Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo Party-list) echoed Del Rosario’s caall for the Philippines to consult Vietnam in negotiating the pact with China in the contested waters.

“Vietnam has taken a strong stance against pro-China provisions in the proposed COC. The Philippines must support Vietnam on this to block the attempts of China to gain complete control of entire South China Sea,” Alejano said Thursday.

Alejano expressed admiration for Vietnam’s vocal condemnation of China’s militarization of the South China Sea while the Philippines refuses to bring up the arbitration ruling in its bilateral negotiations with Beijing.

The lawmaker stressed that the ASEAN should be united in negotiating with China on the COC that must must embody respect for international law.

“Vietnam has been vocal in condemning China’s militarization of the South China Sea. And while it has maintained good economic relations with China, it has not foregone its territorial claims in the South China Sea and compromised its sovereignty – a few things the Duterte administration should take note of,” Alejano said.

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