MANILA - China wants a binding South China Sea code of conduct crafted before President Rodrigo Duterte steps down, Malacañang said Friday.
The sea code is among the maritime issues raised by President Duterte in his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday night.
"As early as possible gusto ni President Xi. Kung pu-pwede within your (Duterte) term," Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters.
(President Xi wants it as early as possible and hopefully within President Duterte's term.)
Duterte earlier said he would push for the code as he noted that China could be delaying the talks for the much-awaited agreement to manage tensions in the disputed waters.
“They are delaying it and it’s causing so many incidents and one day it will --- one mistake, a miscalculation there and mahirap na bawian ‘yun,” he told reporters, noting that the lack of a binding code “is becoming a very big issue.”
In 2017, China and Southeast Asian countries with conflicting maritime claims agreed to start talks on a sea code, seen to replace the non-binding 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
"Chinese President Xi agreed with President Duterte that there is a need for the formulation of the Code of Conduct and it should be crafted within the last remaining years of PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte)," Panelo said in an earlier statement.