Channel NewsAsia

China says keen to conclude COC on South China Sea

China has countered criticisms that it is stalling progress on the Code of Conduct (COC) on the South China Sea, saying Beijing is keen to conclude the COC - a binding agreement to manage and prevent further tensions in the South China Sea.

NAY PYI TAW: China has countered criticisms that it is stalling progress on the Code of Conduct (COC) on the South China Sea. Speaking on the sidelines of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Nay Pyi Taw, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday (Aug 8) said Beijing is keen to conclude the COC - a binding agreement to manage and prevent further tensions in the South China Sea.

However, Mr Wang said the Declaration of Code (DOC) on the South China Sea, signed in 2002, must first be implemented efficiently and effectively. Mr Wang also proposed further maritime cooperation between China and ASEAN.

As many criticisms have been levelled against China over its territorial claims against several ASEAN members, China has spoken out on the sidelines of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Myanmar. Mr Wang told Channel NewsAsia that China is proposing that 2015 be a year of maritime cooperation between China and ASEAN.

China also hopes to build a 21st century maritime Silk Road, where ASEAN will be a priority partner. Mr Wang said: "We're hoping to carry out more maritime cooperation. We would like to work together to maintain peace and stability in this part of the world and as we go forward with maritime cooperation, we could work on joint development and promote common prosperity."

The Chinese foreign minister acknowledged that cooperation is key. However, he expressed reservations on the Triple Action Plan on the South China Sea which the Philippines has suggested. One of the key components in that plan is a stop on any activities that will escalate tensions in the South China Sea.

"China is willing to listen to any proposal that's meaningful. But regardless of who proposes it, the proposal must be fair and objective in the first place. The proposal should be constructive, instead of creating new problems or confrontations," Mr Wang said.

The South China Sea issue will likely take centrestage when the 10 ASEAN members meet with China on Saturday (Aug 9). 

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