China and South-east Asian countries on 18 May 2017 agreed to a draft framework for a long-mooted code of conduct (CoC) for the disputed the South China Sea. The agreement was reached with a hope that it could reduce the risk of clashes in one of the world's busiest waterways.
China's foreign ministry said after a meeting between Chinese and Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) officials in the southern city of Guiyang, the draft framework had been agreed upon, although he gave no details of its contents.
The Ministry said senior officials have completed the negotiations of the draft Code of Conduct (COC) framework, ahead of the mid-2017 timeline which leaders of ASEAN and China had set.
According to a joint press statement issued at the end of the one-day senior officials' meeting, this draft COC framework will be submitted to the foreign ministers for consideration. China and the ASEAN had been hoping to agree on the framework this year, 15 years after committing to draft it.
China has a claim over almost the entire South China Sea, through which about US$5 trillion goods passes annually. The area is also claimed by other countries like Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
Reports suggest that negotiators from China and ASEAN have met in Cambodia and Indonesia in last few months to try to reach the final draft. Possibilities are there that the draft will be approved ahead of the August meeting of South-east Asian foreign ministers in Manila, the capital of the Philippines.
When: 18 May 2017