ASEAN, China set for South China Sea code talks

ASEAN, China set for South China Sea code talks

ASEAN, China set for South China Sea code talks

While the South China Sea was not as dominant an issue at this summit at a time of relative calm, there was an underlying acknowledgement amongst ASEAN members that the risk of a miscalculation in the disputed waterway could flare up at anytime. The South China Sea will likely be a hot topic throughout the summit, as most claimants will be attending.

This is a weekly look at the latest developments in the South China Sea, the location of several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region. Non-claimants to the issue, such as the U.S., stress the necessity for freedom of navigation in the area.

Washington has opposed Beijing's territorial claims on the sea, saying the area should belong to no one, remaining legally open for America's own military patrols.

China will firmly safeguard freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, Premier Li Keqiang said on Tuesday at a regional summit in Manila, state news agency Xinhua reported.

"We are committed to working with Asean, to be good neighbors, good friends, and good partners that always stand together, rain or shine", Li said in his keynote speech.

Other nations such as Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam have rival claims on the waters.

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Duterte revealed that Chinese President Xi Jinping signaled to him during a meeting that he wanted peace in the region, saying he does not want to "waste the lives of my countrymen for a useless war that can not be won by anyone".

"He knows that if he goes to war, everything will blow up".

Philippines President Duterte recommended avoiding confrontation and leaving the situation in the disputed South China Sea "untouched".

"The visit marks a new step forward in Vietnam-China relations", he said.

Asean and China also highlighted the role of witnesses in identifying and prosecuting corruptors and said they would develop "an effective protection system for witnesses in corruption cases, where appropriate".

On Sunday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte suggested that, despite their differences, the leaders should not discuss the South China Sea. I have done plenty of it from both sides. So we welcome that offer, let's see how everyone's response. He has refused to immediately take up with China a ruling by a United Nations -linked tribunal that invalidated Beijing's sprawling claims in the South China Sea, sparking criticism from nationalists and left-wing groups that wanted him to demand Chinese compliance with the landmark decision immediately.

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