News Release

ASEAN, China ministers agree on COC Framework in South China Sea


The foreign ministers of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the People’s Republic of China on Sunday, August 6, adopted the Framework of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.

The COC Framework will serve as a basis for negotiations of the Code of Conduct.

The ASEAN and Chinese foreign ministers agreed on three steps following the adoption of the framework. First, according to Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Acting Spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar, is “the announcement of the adoption of the Framework at the 50th AMM (ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting) and Related Meetings, where we expect a paragraph in the Chairman’s Statement of the PMC (Post Ministerial Conference) reflecting this fact.”

“Second, a meeting will be convened at the end of August to discuss the modalities for the negotiations of the actual Code of Conduct, with the approved Framework as the basis for talks. And third, the Leaders of ASEAN and China are expected to announce the formal start of negotiations on the Code at their Summit in November,” Bolivar continued.

Also, during the ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting earlier, the ministers welcomed the entry into force of the protocol to upgrade the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area, agreed to step-up negotiations to achieve the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and declared 2017 as the ASEAN-China Year of Tourism Cooperation.

In the ASEAN-Australia Ministerial Meeting, on the other hand, the ministers discussed preparations for the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit scheduled next year, and expressed their appreciation for Australia’s continued commitment to support the ASEAN Community.

In the meeting with New Zealand, ASEAN top diplomats reviewed the progress of the ASEAN-New Zealand cooperation, highlighting important achievements of the Action Plan for 2016-2017, which included a maritime security and counter terrorism exercise, ASEAN Young Diplomat Study Tour, and annual scholarships for 225 students in the region.

The ASEAN foreign ministers highlighted as well the integration of micro, small and medium enterprises into the digital economy during the Ministerial Meeting with Korean counterparts; and the establishment of the ASEAN Cultural House in Busan.

Meanwhile, the ministers welcomed Canada’s Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development program, worth 10-million Canadian dollars, for post-secondary students and mid-career professionals from Southeast Asia who wish to study in Canada. Also during the ASEAN-Canada meeting, the Philippines extended its invitation for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to grace the East Asia Summit in November.

Bolivar also mentioned about the outcome of the South East Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Commission (SEANWFZ) meeting.

“During (the) meeting of the Commission, the ministers reached the decision to extend the implementation of the ‘Plan of Action (POA) of the SEANWFZ Treaty’ through 2022,” Bolivar said, adding the five-year POA is expiring this year.

DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Bolivar continued, underscored the country’s support for the full implementation of the SEANWFZ Treaty, consistent with the ASEAN’s goal of a nuclear-free region.###PCO-Content