World

Asean, China to adopt framework for Code of Conduct for South China Sea

MANILA: Fifteen years after their first joint declaration on the South China Sea disputes, the 10-nation Asean and China have agreed to adopt a framework to guide future negotiations for a Code of Conduct in the contested sea.

The Asean foreign ministers and China would formally endorse the document called "Framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea", during their meeting in Manila on Sunday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Monday.

The ministers' meeting is part of the week-long Asean-related meetings the Philippines will chair from Aug 2 to 8, when the regional bloc will mark its 50th anniversary.

The foreign ministers will meet from Aug 5 to 8 at the Philippine International Convention Centre.

"We expect the Asean-China foreign ministers to endorse the Framework of the Code of Conduct (in the South China Sea) at their meeting on Sunday," DFA spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said on Monday.

The framework was finalised during the senior officials meeting in Guiyang, China, last May, he said. The foreign ministers will formally adopt the document at their regular meeting this month.

Mr Bolivar said the foreign ministers' endorsement would "cement the commitment" of Asean and China to negotiate a binding Code of Conduct to avoid violent confrontations among the seven claimant-nations to the South China Sea.

A resource-rich area with strategic sea-lanes, the South China Sea is claimed partly by Asean members the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei as well as Taiwan and China, which claims almost the entire sea.

After the ministers endorse the framework, this will be elevated to the leaders, who will hold their summit in November.

Details of the framework will not be made public, according to the DFA. - PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ANN

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