BEIJING, China – The adoption of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea must be the least concern of Western powers, especially the United States, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said on Friday.
President Duterte had a bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
In his opening remarks, President Duterte said he embarked on a trip to China to discuss the issue of the Code of Conduct as a response to requests from Southeast Asian countries.
“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,” President Duterte said.
To achieve the consensus on the COC, China hopes that during the Philippines’ tenure as country coordinator of China-ASEAN relations, COC consultations can be concluded to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, Premier Li said.
The ASEAN and China have so far agreed on the non-binding 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
The Chinese premier praised the President for forging warm relations with China, stressing that in the past three years, the Philippines-China bilateral relations “has started to turn around and continued to enjoy steady progress and sound development.”
The two countries, he noted, have traditional friendship anchored on mutual respect, equality, and mutual benefit, Premier Li said.
“We will continue to strengthen our bilateral relationship and together, we will achieve win-win results and maintain security and stability in our region and peace in the world,” he said. PND