Progress in code on South China Sea

From far left: Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Thailand's Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai, Vietnam's Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locs
From far left: Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Thailand's Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai, Vietnam's Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin and Myanmar's Union Minister for International Cooperation U Kyaw Tin at the Asean-China Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok yesterday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Asean and China have completed the first reading of the single draft negotiating text for a code of conduct (COC) in South China Sea, Beijing revealed yesterday, signalling that attempts to reduce tensions in the contested waters have reached a milestone.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said this represents new and important progress in the COC consultations, and marks a critical step towards the goal of completing the consultations within three years.

Mr Wang also expressed support for Asean's recently drafted vision of the Indo-Pacific region - a non-binding document issued in June to articulate Asean's own perspective on regional cooperation amid the big-power rivalry in its backyard.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2019, with the headline 'Progress in code on South China Sea'. Print Edition | Subscribe