Sat, May 20, 2017 - Page 1 News List

China, ASEAN draft South China Sea code of conduct

‘SOLID FOUNDATION’:The draft agreement is to be presented to the Chinese and ASEAN foreign ministers for consideration in August

AP, BEIJING

China and the 10-member ASEAN have agreed on the rough outline of a legally binding code of conduct designed to prevent clashes in the South China Sea, officials said.

Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Liu Zhenmin (劉振民) was quoted in state media yesterday as saying the agreement laid a “solid foundation” for further negotiations.

“All parties have vowed to continue to constructively advance the negotiations” toward an early conclusion of the code of conduct, Liu was quoted as telling Xinhua news agency following the meeting on Thursday in the southern Chinese city of Guiyang.

The Philippines welcomed the finalization of the draft of the framework, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, adding it contains elements that the parties agreed upon and is to be presented to Chinese and ASEAN foreign ministers in August for consideration.

Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Chee Wee Kiong said the sides hoped it would produce needed “political support” from the ministers.

No details were given and Liu said the text of the framework agreement would remain secret for now.

No date was given for the adoption of a full code of conduct.

Also yesterday, Liu and Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Santa Romana were to meet separately to discuss an agenda for future talks on their dispute over islands and waters in the eastern portion of the South China Sea.

China was enraged by a ruling in July last year from a Hague tribunal invalidating most of its South China Sea claims in a case brought by the Philippines.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has downplayed that ruling as part of his push for a broad improvement in relations between the two sides since taking office in June last year, casting a shadow over Manila’s ties to its longtime ally, the US.

Despite the thaw in relations, China protested a visit last month by Philippine defense and military chiefs to a disputed island in the South China Sea.

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