Asia-Middle East Relations

China to endorse South China Sea code of conduct:

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to formally endorse a framework for a code of conduct in the disputed South China Sea, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said late Monday.

The framework is to be approved at an Aug. 6 meeting in Manila, the ministry said.

Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea, including a cluster of islands, reefs and atolls further south called the Spratlys. Other nations such as Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims on the waters.

“We expect the ASEAN-China foreign ministers to endorse the Framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea at their meeting Sunday,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said, the Inquirer news site reported.

The Philippines is to host an ASEAN summit from Wednesday as chair of the regional bloc.

After ministerial endorsement, the framework will be further elevated to the countries’ leaders, who are due to meet in November.

The endorsement of the framework would “cement” ASEAN and Chinese commitments to negotiate a binding code to ease tensions in the disputed waters, Bolivar added.

ASEAN — a regional bloc of 10 countries comprising Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — will mark its 50th anniversary on Aug. 8. It aims to promote peace and security in southeast Asia and foster economic development and cooperation among members.

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