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China, Asean to meet in S'pore for talks on code of conduct

Publication Date : 08-03-2014


China and Asean will meet in Singapore on March 18 to continue talks on a Code of Conduct (COC) aimed at preventing territorial disputes in the South China Sea from escalating into armed clashes.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang yesterday revealed the date of the 10th meeting of the Asean-China Joint Working Group on the South China Sea, which was confirmed by the Singapore foreign affairs ministry.

China, which agreed last year to open talks on the code, said practical maritime cooperation would be a topic at the meeting. Mr Qin also called for favourable conditions for the formulation of the COC to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.

China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have overlapping claims in the resource-rich sea. Singapore is not a claimant-state but hopes to see a peaceful resolution to protect freedom of navigation.

Talks on the code started last September in China's Suzhou city at the ninth meeting of the Asean-China Joint Working Group. Since then, communication channels have remained open, said Qin.

China had resisted the proposed COC, fearing that it would weaken its claims arising from its historical "nine-dash line" that spans nearly 90 per cent of the South China Sea.

But as part of its renewed charm offensive towards an Asean wary of China's military assertiveness, Premier Li Keqiang said at a China-Asean Expo last September that it would "proceed systematically and soundly push forward talks" on the COC.


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