29/03/2024 03:56 PM

By Siti Radziah Hamzah

BOAO (China), March 29 (Bernama) -- The Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea should be concluded as soon as possible to mitigate the risk of escalation of conflicts over maritime claims in the area, said a diplomat.

Former Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said negotiations for the COC have been ongoing for several years, underscoring the heightened necessity for its establishment at this juncture. 

"...because we are seeing as the negotiation is taking place, the situation on the ground or at the sea, so to speak, is not getting any better. 

"We see a real potential for small incidents to escalate into bigger conflicts due to miscalculations," he told Bernama on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2024 on Thursday.

Marty emphasised the significance of ASEAN consolidating and bolstering its efforts to attain the coveted Code of Conduct (COC), warning that failure to do so could result in the situation on the ground advancing beyond the pace of negotiation itself.

Alluding to a recent incident involving the Philippines and China, Marty described it as a grave matter, highlighting its adverse implications as a concerning development.

"It underscores the need for cooler heads to prevail, so acts of restraint would be demonstrated. Essentially, to place diplomacy at the forefront," he added.

Recently, China has warned the Philippines to proceed with caution and seek dialogue, stating their relations were at a “crossroads” as confrontations between their coast guards over maritime claims intensified tensions.

The CoC is expected to be a code of conduct that reflects international norms, principles, and rules that are in line with international law especially the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to create a stable, safe, and peaceful South China Sea.





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