China, Asean to formulate strategic partnership vision towards 2030

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (centre) shares a light moment with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) while Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc looks on during the 20th Asean-China Summit in Manila on Nov 13, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA - China has proposed formulating a vision for the strategic partnership between China and the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) towards 2030 to upgrade cooperation, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was cited by China's official news agency Xinhua as saying.

Li on Monday (Nov 13) attended the 20th China-Asean (10+1) leaders' meeting held in Manila in the Philippines.

China hopes that the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea could be adopted at an early date and could serve as a "stabiliser" of peace in the South China Sea, Li said.

South-east Asian foreign ministers and China had adopted a negotiating framework for the COC in August.

The framework seeks to advance a 2002 Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea.

China has built seven man-made islands in disputed waters, three of them equipped with runways, surface-to-air missiles and radars.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea's resource-rich waters, through which US$3 trillion (S$4.1 trillion) of goods pass every year, and recent militarisation in the area has led to concerns. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan have overlapping claims with China in the waters.

China has said it will guarantee "safe passage" for all nations using the South China Sea. It is also willing to work with Asean to maintain peace in the strategic waterway, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told reporters after meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Danang, Vietnam, last Saturday.

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