SECRETARY of Foreign Affairs (SFA) Teodoro L. Locsin Jr., with China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, cochaired the Asean-China Ministerial Meeting on September 9 by videoconference.
The foreign ministers reviewed the progress in their dialogue relations and discussed ways to deepen their cooperation across the political-security, economic and sociocultural pillars. They also exchanged views on regional issues, including the situations surrounding the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and in the South China Sea.
The Philippines serves as the country coordinator for Asean-China Dialogue Relations from 2018 to 2021.
Officials from the bloc expressed appreciation for China’s announcement of its $1 million contribution to the Asean Covid-19 Response Fund and the allocation of $5 million to the Asean-China Cooperation Fund, which will be used toward strengthening joint efforts and projects addressing public health emergencies. China also reiterated its previous pronouncements to make its Covid-19 vaccine a global public good.
Locsin reiterated the Philippines’s commitment to push forward negotiations toward an effective and substantive Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea. The country’s top diplomat highlighted the completion of the first reading of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text and the commencement of its second reading in 2019.
“As a community of law-abiding nations, we emphasize that disputes should be resolved in a peaceful manner in accordance with international law, including the 1982 [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or] Unclos,” he stated.
While noting that the outbreak of Covid-19 as well as the ensuing restrictions imposed on travel and movement precluded scheduled face-to-face meetings, the SFA encouraged fellow member-states and China to resume discussions.
“It is imperative to bring everyone back to the negotiating table [and] demonstrate to the world that we are sincerely committed and determined to arrive at a conclusive result, one way or the other; but we must get down to sincere and serious work,” he exhorted.
The parties also reaffirmed implementing commitments under the Asean-China Free Trade Agreement, or ACFTA, to mitigate the adverse economic impact of the pandemic, as well as boost greater economic and trade cooperation. These efforts will support the joint target of two-way trade of $1 trillion and $150 billion in investments by the end of 2020. DFA
Image credits: DFA