16 June 2016
The Philippines participated in the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China on 14 June 2016.
During the meeting, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers noted that 2016 is a milestone for ASEAN-China relations as it marks the 25th Anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations. They looked forward to working together with China to bring ASEAN-China cooperation to the next level. They agreed to enhance ASEAN-China cooperation on the basis of the principles of equality, mutual benefit and shared responsibility in the interest of achieving national and regional prosperity.
On the South China Sea, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers:
- had a candid exchange with the Chinese Foreign Minister in view of the recent developments on the ground;
- expressed their serious concerns over recent and ongoing developments, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and which may have the potential to undermine peace, security and stability in the South China Sea;
- stressed the importance of maintaining peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea, in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS);
- emphasized the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would further complicate the situation or escalate tensions, and pursue peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law;
- articulated their commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, without resorting to the threat or use of force, in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including the UNCLOS and the UN Charter;
- emphasized the importance of non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities, including land reclamation, which may raise tensions in the South China Sea;
- reiterated their firm commitment to the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in its entirety, and while noting the momentum and new phase of consultations, urged the early adoption of an effective Code of Conduct;
- Pursuant to the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in its entirety, and pending the early adoption of an effective Code of Conduct, stressed the importance of undertaking confidence building and preventive measures that would enhance, among others, trust and confidence amongst parties.
When the arbitration case was raised, the Philippines’ reply underscored that arbitration is among the legal and diplomatic processes promoting the rule of law in the region, and is fully consistent with the DOC and the region’s efforts to peacefully resolve the disputes in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the UN Charter. END