Chi­nese FM to visit Viet­nam, Philip­pines

Global Times - - Front Page - By Li Ruo­han

Chi­nese State Coun­cilor and For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi is ex­pected to kick off his visit to Viet­nam and Philip­pines over the week­end, lead­ing Chi­nese an­a­lysts to note that his trip will fur­ther boost un­der­stand­ing, help man­age dis­putes in the South China Sea and main­tain hard-won sta­bil­ity in the re­gion.

Wang is sched­uled to chair the 11th meet­ing of the Chi­naViet­nam steer­ing com­mit­tee on co­op­er­a­tion in Viet­nam, and he will also visit the Philip­pines dur­ing his two-na­tion trip from Satur­day to Tues­day, Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry spokesper­son Geng Shuang said at a daily brief­ing on Wed­nes­day.

The steer­ing-

com­mit­tee meet­ing is ex­pected to fur­ther en­hance pos­i­tive diplo­matic mo­men­tum and deepen mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and Viet­nam, said Geng.

Wang’s trip is also ex­pected to im­ple­ment con­sen­sus reached by the lead­ers of China and the Philip­pines and en­hance co­or­di­na­tion be­tween China and ASEAN mem­bers, said the spokesper­son.

The Philip­pines has been tasked as the coun­try co­or­di­na­tor for ASEAN-China Di­a­logue Relations from Au­gust 2018 to 2021.

Ex­ploit­ing S.China Sea

As China and ASEAN coun­tries step up ne­go­ti­a­tions on the Code of Con­duct (COC) in the South China Sea and head into “sub­stan­tial” ne­go­ti­a­tions, Wang’s trip to the two ma­jor claimant coun­tries in South China Sea dis­putes will fur­ther en­hance con­sen­sus and con­trib­ute to the fi­nal­iz­ing of the COC, said Chen Xiang­miao, a re­search fel­low at the Hainan-based Na­tional In­sti­tute for the South China Sea.

Mean­while, with coun­tries in the re­gion agree­ing to pro­mote sta­bil­ity and man­age dis­putes, de­tailed talks on the joint ex­plo­ration of the sea’s re­sources could also get a boost, Chen noted.

Lead­ers from China and the Philip­pines are ex­pected to con­tinue dis­cus­sions on oil and gas co­op­er­a­tion, with the view of com­ing up with a frame­work of co­op­er­a­tion that con­forms to rules and reg­u­la­tions and in­ter­na­tional laws, Filipino news­pa­per Manila Bul­letin re­ported Wed­nes­day, cit­ing a state­ment from the Philip­pines’ Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs.

In early Au­gust, China and the ASEAN agreed on a draft text of the COC dur­ing the China-ASEAN for­eign min­is­ters’ meet­ing held in Sin­ga­pore. The con­sen­sus on fu­ture COC ne­go­ti­a­tions came one year af­ter the COC frame­work was en­dorsed, and 16 years af­ter the Dec­la­ra­tion on the Con­duct of Par­ties in the South China Sea (DOC) was signed.

As the in­ten­sity of dis­putes in the South China Sea sub­side, Wang’s trip is a good op­por­tu­nity for the three coun­tries to ex­plore mech­a­nisms to pro­mote joint ex­plo­ration and clear dis­putes and mis­un­der­stand­ings, said Chen.

The big­gest uncertainty comes from coun­tries out­side the re­gion, such the US and its al­lies Ja­pan and Aus­tralia, said Chen. China needs to pre­pare for such chal­lenges as long as the US re­gards the coun­try as its largest “ri­val,” he noted.

In the lat­est sign of Ja­pan’s in­creased ac­tiv­ity in the South China Sea, its Mar­itime Self-De­fense Force’s largest ves­sel, the he­li­copter car­rier Kaga, linked up on Au­gust 31 for bi­lat­eral ex­er­cises with the US Navy’s Ron­ald Rea­gan air­craft car­rier strike group, Ja­pan Times re­ported on Septem­ber 1, cit­ing both coun­tries’ navies.

Mean­while, re­marks from Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte also sparked some doubts about Manila’s com­mit­ment to ex­pand co­op­er­a­tion with Beijing in the South China Sea.

On Au­gust 14, Duterte called on China to “tem­per” its be­hav­ior in the South China Sea, warn­ing that ten­sions could spark an ac­ci­den­tal con­flict, CNN re­ported.

Duterte’s re­marks were made to ap­pease the op­po­si­tion in the Philip­pines and his stance on prag­matic co­op­er­a­tion with China in the South China Sea has never changed, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing that the Philip­pines would face the risk of an en­ergy cri­sis, said Li.

The South China Sea to con­tain one of the world’s rich­est re­serves for na­ture gas and oil, but ex­ploita­tion is also con­sid­ered among the most tech­ni­cally dif­fi­cult, said an­a­lysts.

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