ASEAN, China Agree on Guidelines for China Sea Settlement

Posted July 20th, 2011 at 1:15 am (UTC-5)
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Southeast Asian and Chinese officials say they have reached agreement on a set of guidelines that could lead eventually to a binding code of conduct for handling disputes in the South China Sea.

The officials said the agreement was reached Wednesday and will be submitted Thursday for approval by foreign ministers of the respective countries. The ministers are in the Indonesian resort of Bali for the annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The officials said the guidelines spell out how the countries should implement a Declaration of Conduct that they signed in 2002. Vietnamese negotiator Pham Quang Vinh called the agreement a “significant and good start” toward the ultimate goal of agreement on a binding Code of Conduct that could be used to settle South China Sea disputes.

Tension over the disputes has been rising as countries step up exploration for oil and gas in the waterway. China, Taiwan and four ASEAN members — Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei — have overlapping territorial claims in the sea.