MANILA, Philippines - A Malacañang spokesman welcomed Thursday news that China is willing to "work toward an eventual" adoption of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
Asked to react to Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi's comment on the Code of Conduct, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said he would first have to check the transcript of the Minister’s remarks.
But Lacierda said the Palace welcomes remarks of cooperation and expects action to fulfill these verbal assurances.
“Certainly words that would give assurances are always welcome and also it would be more welcome also if it is followed through by concrete actions towards the fulfillment of those words... Positive statements are more welcome than statements which have tended to be belligerent in the past. Therefore, words that would speak of cooperation, speak of respect for freedom of navigation of the seas are certainly welcome to us,” Lacierda told reporters.
China promised Wednesday to ensure freedom of navigation in the tense South China Sea and told US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton it was willing to work on a code of conduct to manage disputes.
"Freedom and safety of navigation in the South China Sea is assured," Yang told a rare joint news conference with Clinton inside the imposing Great Hall of the People.
"For China and our neighbouring countries, the South China Sea is really a lifeline for exchanges, trade and commerce. There is no issue currently in this area, nor will there ever be issues in that area in the future," he said.
His assurances may be met by scepticism from neighbouring countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam, which have accused China of carrying out a campaign of intimidation as its economic and military clout grows.
The United States has rallied behind the Southeast Asian nations and sharply criticized Beijing's recent establishment of a remote garrison in the South China Sea, through which half of the world's cargo flows. With Agence France-Presse