China and countries belonging to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed on a new set of rules that will reduce friction involving the South China Sea.
However, it's likely to lack teeth if recent statements from ASEAN with regards to China are any guide.
But the ministry did not give any details of the newly-minted code of conduct. "It will provide a good foundation for the next round of consultations".
Cayetano said they would pursue a strategy that would guarantee the peaceful conduct of addressing the conflict following the absence of legally binding mechanism or the code of conduct.
China said the exercises should not hurt the interests of other countries. The Philippine ambassador Chico Sta. In the recent months, tension over the SCS abated after new Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte scaled down Manila's emphasis on its SCS claims even after it won an worldwide tribunal award previous year.
Just this week, China and the Philippines inked a $72 million grant on social and economic planning.
Beijing's reaction came a day after the two countries began their week-long Simbex-17 naval exercise - which will focus on anti-submarine warfare - in the South China Sea, where China is locked in disputes over the ownership of islands and reefs with neighbours such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan. China appears to have installed the systems in order to protect the island from Vietnamese combat divers.
Reuters notes that some of ASEAN's representatives believe China is playing along with the draft framework merely to "buy time for Beijing to wrap up construction activities", at which point Chinese ownership of everything Beijing covets in the region would be a fait accompli, despite the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruling against Chinese claims of sovereignty a year ago.
The parties agreed to "manage and properly control maritime disputes, not take any actions to complicate the situation or expand the dispute, and maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea".
Duterte said on Friday he discussed the South China Sea issue with Xi when the two met and got a firm, but friendly warning.
File Photo of Yongxing Island, home to the government of Sansha, China's southernmost city.
"The Philippines under Duterte decided that we had to address the overdependence on one major power whose capital is thousands of miles away and to pay attention to our neighborhood, particularly, to the biggest neighbor we have - that is China", Santa Romana said.