China Big Brother to ASEAN: Let's talk COC
Leaders of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China agreed in the just-concluded 31st ASEAN Summit to start negotiations on a more substantive and effective a Code of Conduct (COC) on the South China Sea. Talks are expected to begin next year.
ASEAN foreign ministers and China signed a Declaration of Conduct by the Parties in the South China Sea in 2002, a looser set of guidelines for their actions in the contested sea. They have since been working to upgrade it.
In August this year, ASEAN's and China's foreign ministers adopted a framework of the Code of Conduct that "will facilitate the work for the conclusion of an effective COC on a mutually agreed timeline."
The Philippines used to be a vocal critic of China's assertiveness in the South China Sea, but President Rodrigo Duterte--since taking power in June 2016 just weeks before the Philippines won an arbitration award against China declaring its historical claims as having no legal basis--has engaged in diplomacy with Beijing and started focusing less on differences over conflicting territorial claims between them, in return for receiving economic cooperation from the Asian powerhouse. -- with Kyodo News