ASEAN Said Ready to Hand China Draft Code of Conduct

Posted July 14th, 2011 at 3:35 am (UTC-5)
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Japanese news outlets say China will be presented with a draft code of conduct for the South China Sea at a meeting of Southeast Asian nations in Indonesia next week.

Japan’s NHK television quotes diplomats Thursday as saying the draft will address military exercises and exploration for natural resources, as well as appropriate responses to regional conflicts.

The Kyodo news service says a draft communique prepared for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Bali also calls for all parties to respect freedom of navigation and overflight rights in the South China Sea.

ASEAN and China agreed in 2002 to a declaration calling for the peaceful resolution of disputes stemming from overlapping claims to waters and islands in the potentially resource-rich waterway. But efforts to negotiate a binding code of conduct have long been stalled as China says it prefers to deal with the disputes on a bilateral basis.

Both Vietnam and the Philippines have complained recently of Chinese vessels interfering with their efforts to explore for oil and gas in waters they claim as their exclusive economic zones. China, which claims virtually the entire sea, insists it is acting lawfully in waters under its administration.

In a new incident reported Thursday, the Associated Press quotes a Vietnamese official as saying armed Chinese soldiers boarded a Vietnamese fishing boat near the Paracel Islands on July 5 and punched and kicked the boat’s captain.

The official, whose name was not provided, was quoted as saying the Chinese soldiers confiscated one ton of fish from the boat and ordered it out of the area. He said the fishermen did not report the incident until they returned to shore on Wednesday.