China and Southeast Asian nations have been in talks on drawing up a code of conduct to avoid conflicts in the disputed South China Sea. But the discussions have bogged down for years. Now, the Philippines says it has reached out to Vietnam and Malaysia to discuss separate rules.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. disclosed the plan in a speech at a security forum in Honolulu on Sunday. He warned of an increasingly dire situation in the region, saying, "There is rampant, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and militarization of reclaimed features in the South China Sea."
Marcos said China's militarization in the contested waters is moving closer to coasts in the Philippines. The moves include turning submerged reefs into military installations. The president said China is showing interest in coral reefs about 110 kilometers away.
Marcos' remarks came days after he sat down with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco.
The Philippines' call for talks with Vietnam and Malaysia is apparently aimed at pushing China and other countries involved to swiftly draw up comprehensive rules.