Envoy to Duterte: China determined about sea code of conduct

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The Chinese ambassador visited the President in Panacan.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 27) — On the heels of recent controversies in disputed waters, Beijing remains resolved to join efforts in coming up with a code of conduct in the South China Sea.

Ambassador Zhao Jinhua told President Duterte on Monday that China was determined to work with ASEAN members in finalizing the code framework by middle of the year, in time for the group's summit in the Philippines.

Countries with varying claims in the South China Sea had long been pushing for such a code and had urged Manila to use the opportunity of being the chairman of this year's gathering to finally craft the guidelines.

Related: ASEAN unsettled by China weapons in South China Sea

Zhao also mentioned to the President about the successful meeting of Philippine and Chinese coast guards — adding that he looked forward to a Filipino delegation in China to hammer out activities to ensure that Soutch China Sea would be a sea of cooperation.

"Through this bilateral mechanism, mutual trust and maritime cooperation will be forged and misunderstandings will be avoided," according to a statement released said Presidential spokesperson Ernie Abella, citing Zhao's message.

Zhao added he hoped that infrastructure projects in the pipeline would soon be launched, implemented, and completed within the term of Duterte. The ambassador also said that China hoped that the Philippines would soon use donations for anti-poverty programs and anti-illegal drugs operations.

Meanwhile, the foreign affairs and trade minister of Hungary also visited the President in Davao City and said Budapest would be reopening its embassy in Manila.

Minister Peter Szijjárto said he was excited about the upgrade in the relations of the two countries, which would include the opening up of the Philippine countryside as potential new markets. Aside from trade, there will also be person-to-person exchanges through scholarship programs to Hungary.

For his part, U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim told the President that relations with the Philippines remained strong and that Washington was ready to provide Manila with more military equipment, assistance and training.