A first draft of a code of conduct for behaviour in the disputed South China Sea has been completed, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday, adding tension in the waterway had eased notably.Since 2010, China and the 10 members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have been discussing a set of rules aimed at avoiding conflict among rival claimants in the busy South China Sea.
Speaking at his annual news conference on the sidelines of China’s parliamentary session, Wang said talks last month had made “clear progress” and had formulated a first draft of a framework for the code.
“China and ASEAN countries feel satisfied with this,” he said. .. Wang said tensions in the South China Sea had not just “somewhat dropped, but had distinctly dropped” over the past year.
But in a nod to the United States and its regular freedom of navigation naval patrols in the region, Wang said those who still wanted to “stir up trouble” will be condemned by countries in the region. We definitely will not allow this stable situation, which has been hard to come by, be damaged or interfered with,” he said.
The United States has criticised China’s construction of man-made islands and its build-up of military facilities in the sea, and expressed concern they could be used to restrict free movement.
China has long called for what it terms “countries outside the region” – generally a reference to the United States – to stay out of the dispute, saying Ch ..