Interview: China, ASEAN have ability to keep peace, stability in South China Sea

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-14 12:07:03|Editor: Xiang Bo
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by Yuan Mengchen, Dong Chengwen

MANILA, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) announced to start the consultations on the text of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea here on Monday.

Victor Corpuz, a former Philippine military intelligence chief, told Xinhua in a recent interview that it shows China and ASEAN have the ability to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Corpuz said that the COC is a welcomed development and it is an avenue for dialogue.

"It's a good signal. The COC will contain rules that can help maintain peace in the area," he said.

"I think it needs the effort of both sides to really achieve genuine peace in the area, and I think that is the main reason we now have a more peaceful situation in the South China Sea," Corpuz said.

Corpuz reiterated that those countries outside the region should not interfere in the talks.

"They should solve it by themselves, with no foreign interference," Corpuz said, adding that outside interference may only delay, if not derail, the process.

"We don't want any countries interfering in the COC negotiations aside from ASEAN and China. If they interfere, it will surely make the issue more complex," Corpuz said.

He lamented the path taken by the previous Philippine administration frayed the ties between Beijing and Manila that led to the confrontation.

"The previous administration adopted a win-lose strategy that will really lead China and the Philippines to quarrel," Corpuz said.

He said Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to take a non-confrontational strategy in dealing with the relations with China is a "win-win" move.

Corpuz said that the best way forward is one-on-one negotiation so as not to complicate the issue because one nation's interests might be different from the interests of other nations.

"We really need to go one-on-one negotiation because a multi-party negotiation will only lead to confusion and we can never agree, we can never come to a good conclusion because of the national interests of individual countries differ from each other, and individual countries adopt different strategies," Corpuz said.

Corpuz pointed out that the situation in the South China Sea had become more stable after Philippine President Duterte visited China in October last year.

"One factor is the change of policy of the Philippine government. Now, we have an independent foreign policy," Corpuz said.

During the defense ministers meeting of ASEAN and its dialogue partners in October, the Chinese side proposed to conduct joint maritime exercises in the South China Sea.

Corpuz said the idea is good because it will improve military relations between ASEAN countries and China.

It will be a breakthrough if the idea is materialized, he said.

Corpuz said that Singapore, which is going to take ASEAN's chairmanship next year, could play the role of a bridge.

"I think the future will be good. If all of us will be negotiating on a win-win strategy, then I think we can find a very acceptable solution to this problem in the South China Sea," he said.