China, ASEAN members to talk over S China Sea

Updated: 2012-04-05 21:20


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BEIJING - China will negotiate directly with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on drafting a code of conduct concerning the South China Sea, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday.

The document is important in implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular press conference.

At the annual ASEAN summit in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh on Tuesday, Philippine President Benigno Aquino said ASEAN should forge a common position on a proposed code of conduct aimed at easing tensions in the South China Sea before talking with China.

Hong responded that the DOC, signed by China and ASEAN countries in November 2002, is intended to promote peace and stability in the South China Sea, and it is not used for resolving disputes on territorial sovereignty and maritime rights in the South China Sea.

ASEAN has also reiterated that, as a regional organization, it is impartial on controversial issues, and disputes concerning the South China Sea should be dealt with through peaceful negotiation among the claimants, according to Hong.

China has been implementing the DOC with ASEAN members in a positive manner, including conducting joint research programs and cooperative projects, he added.

ASEAN is comprised of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.