Thai PM vows commitment to code of conduct on South China Sea row (Philippines Daily Inquirer)

As the conflict over the South China Sea persists, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Friday assured President Benigno Aquino III that Thailand will continue to ensure the implementation of a code of conduct between China and the Association of Southeast Asean Nations (Asean) member states.

Thailand is the country coordinator assigned to Asean-China relations for 2012 to 2015.

Prayut said he and Aquino discussed their own views on the issue during the hour-long expanded bilateral meeting held in Malacanang on Friday morning.

I expressed appreciation to the Philippines for supporting Thailand in the role of country coordinator for Asean-China relations and [Thailand is] firm to cooperate with the Philippines and Asean countries in fully implementing the declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and promoting consultation in the conduct in the South China Sea, he said.

Asean and China have long been working on a binding code of conduct to address numerous issues faced by countries claiming parts of South China Sea. However, only a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea was finalized and signed in 2002.

The declaration reaffirms the parties’ commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and other international laws on state-to-state relations. It also states that Asean members and China should resolve disputes by peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force, through friendly consultations and negotiations.

China’s reclamation and construction of artificial islands in disputed areas of South China Sea has heightened tension in the region.

Prayut also said his government will support Singapore as it takes over the task of country coordinator this year.

During his speech, Aquino congratulated Thailand for its success in facilitating Asean-China relations.

Thailand has truly been a reliable companion of the Philippines in promoting understanding, peace, and stability not only within our community and region, but throughout the larger community of nations, Aquino said.