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China, ASEAN call for protecting peace and stability in South China Sea

China and the Association of South-East Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) countries expressed their hope for an swift signing of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) in order to better protect regional peace and stability.

Participants made the remarks at a seminar held Monday commemorating the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

The DOC was the first political document signed in 2002 by China and ASEAN countries concerning the South China Sea issue.

“China&ASEAN countries have creatively proposed and advanced a dual-track approach. That is, countries concerned seek to settle their maritime disputes through friendly consultations&negotiations, and China&ASEAN countries jointly uphold peace&stability in the South China Sea.”

— Yu Dunhai (@YDunhai) July 25, 2022
Addressing the opening ceremony of the seminar, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the DOC establishes the basic principles and common norms for all parties for handling the South China Sea issue.

Stressing how regional countries are the true parties responsible for properly handling the South China Sea issue, Mr Wang called on all the parties to continue keeping the bottom line for peace in the area.

All sides should firmly support all the efforts that are conducive to peaceful settlement and managing disputes, oppose any words or deeds that result in tension or provoke confrontation in the region, he said.

Cambodia ready to promote negotiations
Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong echoed Mr Wang in saying that the signing of the DOC was a historic achievement which shows the international community how ASEAN and China can find common ground and resolve their differences.

He also noted that Cambodia, as the rotating presidency of ASEAN, is willing to promote negotiation between ASEAN and China so as to reach an early conclusion of the COC. Most importantly, all parties to the DOC should abide by the agreements that have been reached since they are of great importance for promoting a constructive dialog between ASEAN and China, and in establishingshared prosperity and stability for the future.

Officials and experts from the member states reviewed the progress achieved since the signing of the DOC, and called on all parities to eliminate distractions and continue promoting the negotiation on the COC, so as to enhance and upgrade the DOC and reach a COC that is effective, substantial, and in line with International Laws such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

China hopes for a quick consensus
“The COC is an important step towards the implementation of the DOC. The COC should be in line with the spirit of the DOC, and at the same time it is an enhanced version of the DOC. We hope that in the near future, China and ASEAN countries will reach a substantive and effective COC and establish a more organized maritime order in the South China Sea,” said Hong Liang, China’s director of the Department of Border and Ocean Affairs under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“We all have been promoting negotiations on the COC and we have a strong expectation that a common crisis-managing rule in the South China Sea can be achieved and followed by all. It is the consensus of the regional countries that China and the 10 member states of ASEAN can conclude and sign the COC at an early date,” said Wu Shicun, the founding president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies.

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