China, Philippines hope for early conclusion of COC talks

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-03 22:45:52|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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MANILA, April 3 (Xinhua) -- China and the Philippines wrapped up their bilateral talks on the South China Sea issues here on Wednesday, with both sides hoping for an early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

"Both sides reiterated their commitments to full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and agreed to maintain the positive momentum of the negotiations towards the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, based on consensus," a statement, issued after the talks, read.

China and the Philippines convened the Fourth Meeting of the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) on the South China Sea on Wednesday in Manila, respectively led by Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou on the Chinese side, and Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Meynardo LB. Montealegre of the Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs on the Philippines side.

"Both sides affirmed the importance of the BCM as a venue for enhanced and regular dialogue. Both sides also noted the significance of the BCM as a platform for pursuing measures to increase mutual trust and confidence," the statement read.

In this regard, both sides acknowledged that the BCM, as a forum for raising differences with a view to addressing them, preventing and properly managing incidents at sea, and enhancing maritime dialogue and cooperation, can play a significant role in the stable and steady development of bilateral relations.

"Both sides reiterated that while the contentious issues in the South China Sea should not be ignored, they are not the sum total of the Philippines-China relations and should not exclude mutually beneficial cooperation in other fields," the statement said.

Both sides also reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting regional peace and stability, freedom of navigation in and over-flight above the South China Sea.

Both sides reiterated their commitment to addressing disputes by peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force, through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Both sides likewise agreed that their bilateral relations should serve the interests of the Filipino and Chinese peoples and contribute to peace, stability, and development in the region.

Both sides also exchanged views on oil and gas development.

The two sides also recognized the importance of other complementary multilateral platforms, including ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations, ASEAN Regional Forum, and East Asia Summit, in promoting peace and stability in the region.

The Fifth Meeting of the BCM will be held in China in the second half of 2019.