ASEAN, China adopt framework for South China Sea code of conduct

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At least 4 ASEAN member states - the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vitenam - have overlapping claims with China in the strategic waters where about $5 trillion in trade passes through annually.

During last year's summit in Vientiane, Laos, the heads of state and government were not able to come up with a definitive stance on the maritime disputes in the South China Sea, as Cambodia opposed any mention of the landmark ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague against Beijing and in favor of the Philippines.

"Regarding what kind of COC will be produced, that is up to the discussion by the 11 parties of Asean plus China", he said.

"The role they play is just to make sure that China just doesn't do what they want to do", Romualdez said on Thursday in Manila, referring to the U.S. military.

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China has proposed a three-step vision to step up consultations on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said here Sunday after he and his counterparts from ASEAN nations approved the framework of the COC.

On Saturday, ASEAN foreign ministers adopted a separate joint statement on the situation in the Korean Peninsula, with its provisions being included into the final joint communique.

"China stands ready to work with all parties and under the framework of the UN Security Council to produce effective resolutions that is consistent with global law regarding the situation in the Korean Peninsula", Wang added.

Wang told a news conference in Manila that those conditions include non-interference by outside parties, an apparent reference to the United States, which China has frequently accused of meddling in an Asian dispute that should be resolved only by the countries involved.

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"It is not that easy, but it is the direction that we need to work together. That is also provided for in the just concluded UN Security Council Resolution endorsed by the 15-member National Security Council, including the USA". According to Pyongyang, North Korea will attend the meeting "to clarify the nature of its nuclear arsenal", which it considers fully self-defensive due to the military provocations by Washington and its allies, so it does not pose a threat or risk for any other territory, North Korean authorities noted.

Wang said that while North Korea has reaffirmed the position that it has been saying all along, "I don't think it really matters much". Such exchange is useful not only for the other parties but also for the DPRK.

China claims almost all of the strategically vital sea, including waters approaching the coasts of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

This progress has also set the stage for Singapore to fulfil its agenda as ASEAN chairman next year, added Dr Balakrishnan.

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