MANILA - Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian said China remains optimistic about an “early conclusion” of the crafting of an ASEAN-China code of conduct in the South China Sea.
Speaking to reporters during the Chinese New Year reception Wednesday, Huang said the parties have completed the first reading of the code of conduct and have started the process of the second reading.
Huang said the visit of a Chinese coast guard vessel to Manila, the first in history, is part of efforts to implement a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that seeks to promote cooperation between the two coast guards.
Huang said exchanges like this aims to promote understanding and cooperation and promote peace, stability and tranquility in the South China Sea.
As part of the vessel’s visit, the third meeting of the Joint Coast Guard Committee (JCGC) between China and the Philippines was also held.
Huang said both sides are exploring cooperation in various fields such as maritime rescue and environmental protection. He said this is a good opportunity for the two coast guards to demonstrate goodwill and friendship.
“It’s very important to understand each other. As two major law enforcing agencies of the two countries. The deepening of understanding and trust between the two coast guards will be conducive to promote... cooperation and to Reduce risks of any confrontations and misunderstandings,” he said.
The Chinese Coast Guard has also made food and face mask donations to the victims of the Taal Volcano eruption.
Huang said Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana visited the Chinese vessel Wednesday morning and was briefed of the progress of the meeting, and that Lorenzana expressed support for the further strengthening of the two coast guards’ operations.
Asked about promoting the safety of Filipino fishermen, Huang said the question is better directed to the coast guards but that both sides are here to meet and discuss exchanges and cooperation in the field agreed upon by both sides and that according to their discussion, “they will promote mutual understanding.”
Meanwhile, Huang expressed support for the Kaliwa Dam project, saying it is an important project and will benefit Filipinos if completed.
He also expressed support for the completion of China-funded build, build build projects, saying they are Expected to produce outcomes that can “bring tangible benefits to the people.”