MANILA, July 31 (Xinhua) -- Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said on Tuesday that his country had vowed to play a constructive role in advancing ASEAN (the association of Southeast Asian Nations)-China relations when it assumes the role of ASEAN-China country coordinator later this year.
"We will play bridging or intermediary role (in pushing for the common interest to advance the dialogue partnership)," Cayetano told reporters before leaving for Singapore to attend the ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting and related meetings.
"Being a country coordinator is actually bridging that specific country to ASEAN," he said, adding the Philippines "will play a crucial role" as a country coordinator from 2018 to 2021.
"We have a very good window to not only include but also make part of the whole code of conduct the protection of marine environment," he said, referring to the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea to defuse tensions in the region.
ASEAN and China are currently negotiating the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea which both sides hope to conclude soon.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The ASEAN member states take turn in being a country coordinator for each of the Dialogue Relationships. The Philippines will be the country coordinator for ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations from August 2018.
ASEAN's formal engagement with its dialogue partners started in the 1970s with the post-ministerial conferences where ASEAN foreign ministers would meet with their counterparts from the external parties like ASEAN-China.
Nowadays, ASEAN has 10 dialogue partners, namely Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia, and the United States.
ASEAN dialogue partnerships are characterized by regular high-level exchanges and dialogue, including ministerial meetings and summit meetings.