Bangkok (dpa) – China has agreed on a set of principles with the Association of Southeast Asian nations to deal with disputes in the South China Sea, a report said Thursday.
The move marks a step forward in the area, where China claims almost the entire Sea, including several parts administered by its South-East Asian neighbours.
The new agreement, drawn up Wednesday at the 8th Asean-China summit, consists of a list of “commonalities” to form the basis of future negotiations, the permanent secretary of the Thai Foreign Ministry, Sihasak Phuangketkeow, was quoted as saying by the Bangkok Post.
Measures were also agreed to tackle any future crises and incidents, including the establishment of new hotlines, the report quoted senior officials as saying.
China and Asean nations in 2002 agreed on a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
Beijing has since then pushed to discuss the issue bilaterally with individual rival claimants rather than with Asean as a bloc.
But the Chinese vice-minister for Foreign Affairs Liu Zhen Min told reporters Wednesday that the meeting in Bangkok was “one of the most fruitful” and that the “momentum is right”.
China has in recent months increased its activities in the disputed areas, including deploying mobile oil rigs near a Vietnamese-claimed island, and sending fishing boats into Philippine waters.
Coastguard vessels have also jostled over the disputed the Spratly Islands, with China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei all asserting claims.