International Convention Centre, Brunei Darussalam
9 October 2013

President Benigno S. Aquino III and the nine ASEAN Leaders met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang who is visiting Brunei Darussalam for the first time to attend the 16th ASEAN-China Summit.

In a press release issued by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (Chairman of ASEAN 2013) during the 23rd ASEAN Summit held earlier, he states that “ASEAN must demonstrate its unity and centrality to ensure peace, stability and greater prosperity in the region, in managing the interests of major powers or negotiating trade agreements. This is especially important in ASEAN’s efforts to develop a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea (COC).”

It adds, “His Majesty is therefore pleased to see that the COC is now formally on the agenda of officials’ meetings and that regular consultations would be held next year. To this end, His Majesty highlighted that ASEAN must remain united in reiterating the two-step approach to the issue, in order to maintain the momentum of dialogue and consultations, as well as in working together with China to implement the Declaration of the COC in the South China Sea.”

On the same occasion, President Aquino said in his statement that this “presents an opportunity for ASEAN and all other parties to collectively exercise the observance of the rule of law. This belief guided the Philippines’ decision to take a two-track complementary approach to disputes in the South China Sea, an approach that is both peaceful and rules-based. First, to manage tensions, we are advocating an expeditious conclusion of the ASEAN-China Code of Conduct. Second, to resolve disputes, we are pursuing arbitration for the clarification of maritime entitlements. Both tracks are legally-binding and both are anchored on international law.”

Furthermore, the President is “pleased to note that the first official consultations between ASEAN and China on the COC were held last month in Suzhou, China. The Philippines looks forward to the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct. As we move towards finalizing the COC, we enjoin all parties in the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in all its aspects, especially paragraph 5, which in effect preserves the status quo at the time that the DOC was concluded in 2002.”

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