Talks on Code of Conduct for South China Sea to begin

Xinhua
China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are to start consultations on the text of a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said yesterday.
Xinhua

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are to start consultations on the text of a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said yesterday.

Li made the remarks when attending the 20th China-ASEAN (10+1) leaders’ meeting in the Philippine capital of Manila.

China, which has most of its foreign trade freight passing through the sea, wants peace and stability in that area more than any other country, Li noted.

China is committed to maintaining peace and stability in the area and resolving territorial and maritime rights disputes with parties directly involved through negotiation and in a peaceful manner, he said. Such a stance would never change.

China, he said, expects to work with ASEAN countries on the basis of friendly negotiation to fully implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and to push for consultations on the code of conduct.

At the ASEAN foreign ministers’ meetings in August, China and ASEAN countries drew up and approved the framework of the code of conduct, saying they would initiate substantive consultations on the code’s text within the year.

The framework, Li said, epitomizes the consensus on the code’s key elements reached by all parties.

“Through consultations on the COC, we hope that all parties could enhance their mutual understanding and trust, and strive to adopt the COC at an early date on the basis of consensus and make it a stabilizer of peace in the South China Sea,” he said.

China proposes the formulation of a vision for a strategic partnership between China and ASEAN toward the year 2030 to upgrade cooperation, Li said.

Li said the vision will upgrade the China-ASEAN cooperation framework from 2+7 to 3+X.

The 2+7 refers to a cooperation framework proposed by Li in 2013 at a meeting with ASEAN leaders in Brunei, which emphasizes a two-point political consensus, namely enhancing strategic trust and promoting economic cooperation, and seven cooperation fields including trade facilitation, interconnectivity and security exchanges.

The 3+X, using the letter X to represent the unknown, means China-ASEAN will touch many fields while focusing on three pillars — political security, economy and trade, and people-to-people exchanges.

Li said China-ASEAN cooperation will have more global substance and build a new exemplar for South-South cooperation.

It is a consensus of ASEAN nations that the China-ASEAN relationship is the most vibrant and has the richest content among the relationships ASEAN has with its partners, he said. And China was the first major country outside the bloc to endorse the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, to form a strategic partnership with ASEAN, and to start free trade area talks.

China and ASEAN have maintained their relationship in a neighborly and friendly direction and handled sensitive issues through dialogue and consultation, he said. 

Li arrived in the Philippines on Sunday for an official visit and a series of meetings on East Asian cooperation. He will also attend the 20th ASEAN-China, Japan and South Korea (10+3) leaders’ meeting and the 12th East Asia Summit.


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