29 Aug 2017 - 9:24
Philippines hosting South China Sea cooperation forum
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines: The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs announced Monday that the country is hosting a forum on international cooperation on the South China Sea issue.
Participants include senior diplomats, policymakers and maritime cooperation scholars from the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China.
"The seminar seeks to build on what we have achieved so far in our efforts to build trust and confidence among the parties involved in the South China Sea issue," Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said as quoted by The Philippine Star.
The forum is taking place despite recent reports of Beijing’s island building activities in the disputed waters.
Cayetano said the two-day seminar in Manila on the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea ends August 29.
"The seminar also seeks to boost regional efforts to ensure peace and stability in the South China Sea, to help prevent maritime accidents and to preserve and protect the marine environment and promote sustainable fisheries," he added.
Cayetano said the seminar highlights the Philippines’ commitment to implement the DOC while efforts to improve the Code of Conduct are continuously made.
“These practical measures are essential in ensuring that the region remains peaceful and stable and that the interests of coastal states like the Philippines are protected.”
The country first hosted a seminar on the South China Sea in 2015 which focused on discussions on the peaceful settlement of disputes and what constitutes self-restraint on activities of claimant states in the contested waters.
A joint communique was issued by ASEAN early this month which expressed concerns on Chinese reclamation activities and called for the "non-militarization" of the disputed waters.
Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea, including a cluster of islands, reefs and atolls further south called the Spratlys. ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have overlapping claims on the waters.