FOREIGN ministers from 27 member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) have reached a landmark decision with China to adopt the framework of a code of conduct (COC) in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) on August 6 at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila.
According to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, this is considered “progress” but clarified that China will only agree to start negotiations on the sea code “if there is no more disruption from non-regional parties and when the situation in the South China Sea is generally stable.”
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said the ministers agreed to convene at the end of August to discuss modalities of the negotiations on the actual code of conduct.
This year’s theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World” reflects the Philippine government’s advocacy to promote unity with and among Asean member states and their global partners.
Under the Philippines’ chairmanship of the Asean this year, the ministers primarily reviewed the progress and future direction of the Asean community-building efforts. They also exchanged views on pressing regional and international developments.
The annual AMM and its related meetings brought together the foreign ministers of the Asean Plus Three (APT), the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the Asean Regional Forum (ARF). The Foreign Ministers of Asean’s 10 dialogue partners also met individually with the Asean during the Post-Ministerial Conferences (PMCs).
Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano was the chairman of the 50th AMM Plenary and Retreat, the 18th APT Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the 7th EAS Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the 24th ARF Plenary and Retreat. He also led, together with Canada, the Asean-Canada Post-Ministerial Conference. Cayetano also participated in the post-ministerial conferences with other dialogue partners.
Cayetano also headed the Interface of the Asean Foreign Ministers with the representatives of the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the Meeting of the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) Commission. He also joined the foreign ministers of the Southwest Pacific Dialogue for its 15th Ministerial Meeting.
The Meeting of the SEANWFZ Commission reached the decision to extend the implementation of the “Plan of Action (POA) to Implement the SEANWFZ Treaty” through 2022. The five-year POA of the SEANWFZ Treaty is expiring this year after it was adopted in 2013.
In his intervention, Cayetano underscored the Philippines’ support for the full implementation of the SEANWFZ Treaty, consistent with the region’s goal of preserving the region as a Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone and ensuring the safety of the peoples of the Asean.
The SEANWFZ Commission is composed of Asean Foreign Ministers with the task of overseeing the implementation of the SEANWFZ Treaty.
Meanwhile, the Asean celebrates its 50th founding anniversary this month. A grand celebration of this milestone event will be held on August 8 simultaneously with anniversary activities in key cities and municipalities in the Philippines as well as the capitals of the member nations. Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) program manager Queng Reyes said more than 500 contingents from the Department of Education will be part of street dancers who will present regional dances.
The parade will end at the Cultural Center of the Philippines grounds, where celebrations will continue.
PETA Artistic Director Maribel Legarda said traditional and contemporary performances will be presented, through both spoken words and other performances.
Legarda added that 10 pop stars, one from each Asean country, will perform at the Bonifacio Global City Amphitheater in Taguig City.