21 May 2024

ASEAN and China have made a major breakthrough by agreeing to have a single text that would serve as the basis for negotiations toward establishing the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, according to Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

He said they have also agreed on the “key modalities” for future rounds of negotiations.

Speaking at the opening of the session of the ASEAN-China ministerial meeting in Singapore yesterday, he described the single draft as a “living document” that will be the basis for future Code of Conduct (COC) negotiations to resolve conflicts in the South China Sea.

He said ASEANand China settled on the negotiating text in June when they held talks in Changsha in China’s Hunan province.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who represented China in the meeting,  welcomed the announcement in his remarks, calling it good news and a major development.

“We believe that without any disturbances from outside, COC negotiations will accelerate,” he said.

“Past progress has shown that China and Asean countries have the ability to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, and have the wisdom to arrive at a set of regional rules of conduct that we all will observe.”

The ASEAN-China meeting is one of the several meetings related to the annual ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting.