MANILA — China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will start consultations on the text of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, Premier Li Keqiang said here on Nov 13.
Premier 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 freight of foreign trade passing through the South China Sea, wants peace and stability for that area more than any other country, Premier Li noted.
The Premier said China is committed to maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea and resolving territorial and maritime rights disputes with parties directly involved through negotiations and in a peaceful manner.
Such a stance would never change, he added.
China, he said, expects to work with ASEAN countries on the basis of friendly negotiations to fully and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and to push for consultations on the COC.
At the ASEAN foreign ministers’ meetings in August, China and ASEAN countries drew up and approved the framework of the COC, saying they would initiate substantive consultations on the code’s text within the year.
The framework, Premier Li said, epitomizes the consensus on the COC key elements reached by all parties and is an important outcome of their consultations already carried out.
“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,” said the Premier.
Premier Li arrived in the Philippines on Nov 12 for an official visit to the country and for a series of leaders’ meetings on East Asian cooperation.
In Manila, he will also attend the 20th ASEAN-China, Japan and South Korea (10+3) leaders’ meeting, as well as the 12th East Asia Summit.