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2nd reading of COC begins; parties hopeful of early conclusion

January 16, 2020 - Thursday 2:01 PM by PNA

Article Banner Image CHINESE NEW YEAR RECEPTION. Several Philippine government officials attend the Chinese New Year reception hosted by the Chinese Embassy on Wednesday (Jan. 15, 2020) in Makati City. Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian hails the milestones achieved by the Philippines and China in the past few years. (PNA photo by Joyce Ann Rocamora)

MANILA -- Parties involved in the negotiation of a code of conduct in the South China Sea (COC) remained optimistic about the early conclusion of the document's crafting, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said Wednesday.

The Chinese envoy, who also served as Beijing's representative to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) prior to his posting in Manila, bared that the second reading of the single negotiating draft on the COC negotiation has already begun.

"Both China and ASEAN countries are working very hard to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea. We have completed the first readings of the COC and we have begun the process of the second reading already," he told reporters in Makati City.

ASEAN and China are working to finish the negotiations by 2021.

"We are looking forward to the early conclusion of the COC. At this important juncture, the visit of the Coast Guard (to Manila) and the exchanges between the two coast guards will contribute to the stability and tranquility in the South China Sea," Huang said.

Huang was referring to a Chinese Coast Guard vessel that is currently on a five-day goodwill visit to Manila.

Such exchanges could promote "mutual understanding and cooperation" between the two states and, at a broader context, advance peace, and stability in the region where some littoral countries are embroiled in territorial disputes, the envoy said.

"The purpose of this visit is, first, to implement the memorandum of understanding between the two coast guards which was signed a few years ago... Second is that it's a good opportunity for the two to demonstrate goodwill and friendship," he said. (PNA)