China, ASEAN agree on framework for S.China Sea code of conduct

Still image from a United States Navy video purportedly shows Chinese dredging vessels in the waters around Fiery Cross Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands

The document was completed ahead of the mid-2017 goal set by the leaders of ASEAN and China, and "contains elements which the parties have agreed upon", the DFA statement added.

China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations had been hoping to agree the framework this year, 15 years after committing to draft it. "But it is the only method that we can use to maintain security and order in our region", he told reporters after presenting his keynote address at the Toastmasters D87 "Stand Out, Speak Up" Conference here today. "And the countries that do not comply, will they respect that court?"

The proposal follows remarks by President Rodrigo Duterte that China was installing "some kind of armed garrison" on the disputed South China Sea islands it claims.

China installed new "anti-frogmen" rocket launchers on Fiery Cross Island, which is claimed by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan.

China claims nearly all of the resource-rich South China Sea (SCS), including islands more than 800 miles from the Chinese mainland, despite objections from neighbours such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam.

At a briefing in Beijing earlier this week, Romana said the sides had "turned a new page" on dealing with their South China Sea issues.

The Philippine delegation to the bilateral consultation mechanism (BCM) held in Guiyang, Guizhou Province, China on Friday was led by Ambassador Jose Santiago Sta.

The framework now goes under intense scrutiny again to try to draft a final agreement. They started working on the Conduct Code in 2013 in a bid to enforce the dispute-resolving declaration.

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.

Chinese officials spoke vaguely of encouraging progress made in the talks with ASEAN but would not establish a firm timeline for finalizing a Code of Conduct.

"This is the objective of this bilateral consultation mechanism, to discuss issues that are contentious, while we pursue non-contentious issues in other fields", the journalist-turned-ambassador said.

For his part, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin and China-ASEAN Senior Officials' Meeting co-chair Liu Zhenmin commended his fellow senior officials from 10-member ASEAN for hard work and dedication. "Is it concerned about the stability of the South China Sea, or is it afraid of China-Philippines and China-ASEAN relations developing as the situation stabilizes?".

Duterte said China did not want to bring up the arbitral ruling at a time when other claimant countries, like Vietnam, might also decide to file cases against it at the arbitration tribunal. "If we went straight to the contentious issues, we would not get to where we are now".

"As they say, it's hard to wake up a sleeping person who's pretending to be asleep", he added, saying that he has forwarded relevant documents and his lectures on the West Philippine Sea to the government, but he said these may have fallen on "deaf ears".

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