China, ASEAN OK draft code of conduct in S. China Sea
World Bulletin / News Desk
China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed on a framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea, a long-anticipated move to ease the tension in the disputed waters.
Reached at a meeting between Chinese and ASEAN officials in the Chinese city of Guiyang on Thursday, the agreement will serve as a guideline for a final agreement.
In comments aired on state television, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhemin said that the framework was inclusive and considered the concerns of all affected countries, calling on others not to interfere, referring to the U.S.
Philippines welcomed the completion of the drafting of the framework.
"We reaffirm our commitment to completing an effective Code using this agreed upon framework as the basis," Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Robespierre Bolivar was quoted as saying by local ABS-CBN News.
Chinese and ASEAN officials will meet in August in the Philippines to submit the agreed framework.
Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea including a cluster of islands, reefs and atolls further south called the Spratlys. Other sovereign entities such as Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims on the waters.
China has built man-made islands on seven reefs in the sea, a move that has sparked tensions and triggered concerns among several nations, including the U.S.
The area is a critical asset for global shipping and fishing, as it sees over $5 trillion in maritime trade every year.
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