China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) prepared a framework draft of the Code of Conduct of the parties in the South China Sea. The consultations on this document were conducted for three years. The framework draft was created during the course of the talks in Guiyang between the both parties. China and ASEAN are developing a Code of Conduct for the parties in the South China Sea for a total of 15 years. It is noted that the project will be submitted to the meeting of ASEAN and PRC Foreign Ministers in the Philippines in August 2017. The parties hope to reach a framework agreement as early as 2017.
“This is an important intermediate result. The document was prepared earlier than planned”, said the head of the Chinese delegation at the talks, the deputy foreign minister of the People’s Republic of China, Liu Zhenmin. “All parties uphold using the framework of regional rules to manage and control disputes, to deepen practical maritime cooperation, to promote consultation on the code and jointly maintain the peace and stability of the South China Sea”, added he.
Some ASEAN diplomats have expressed concern about whether China is being sincere, or whether ASEAN has enough leverage to get China to commit to a set of rules. Some Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines, as well as the United States, have expressed concern at what they see as China’s militarization of the South China Sea, including building air strips on man-made islands.
Along with the framework, rival claimants China and the Philippines will start talks today over their competing claims in the sea, according to senior diplomats from both sides.