Duterte to Li: Biggest urgency to reach code of conduct comes from Western world
President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday that aside from the Southeast Asian countries, the Western world has been asking him on the progress of the code of conduct in the South China Sea with China.
In his opening statement during his bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Duterte said one of the reasons he went to China was because being the coordinator country of ASEAN-China, he had received "many requests regarding the progress of the Code of Conduct that China is preparing."
"Most of them are ASEAN countries. The biggest urgency really comes from the Western world," he said.
But he added, "And I would like to tell you now, in front of the media and all, that the passing of --- or the passage of the Code of Conduct by China and everyone else is the least concern of America."
Li, on the other hand, expressed hope that the consultations on the COC could be concluded while the Philippines is still the ASEAN-China coordinator.
"And it is our hope that during the Philippines’ tenure as the country coordinator of China-ASEAN relations, we will conclude COC consultations as to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea," he said.
Li said China also wants to continue to strengthen its bilateral relationship with the Philippines.
"Together we will achieve win-win results and maintain security and stability in our region and peace in the world," he added.
The Philippines, China and other ASEAN countries, like Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam, have overlapping claims in the South China Sea. Celerina Monte/DMS