South China Sea code of conduct draft approved

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Lin added that the issue should be dealt with through multilateral discussions, based on the principles of shelving differences and seeking joint development of resources.

India, along with the US, has voiced its support for freedom of navigation in the South China Sea region, as foreign trade worth more than a trillion dollar moves through the disputed waters. "We have a very open attitude to normal exchanges between various countries", she said when asked for China's reaction to the joint naval exercise of India and Singapore.

At the same time, China can never represent Taiwan at the negotiations with regard to the South China Sea, he added. It's in between a lot of countries, six of which have claimed at least part of the sea.

The meeting came only days after a visit by Duterte to Beijing, where the outspoken president attended a summit hosted by Xi on China's belt and road plan.

Both sides reviewed their experiences on the South China Sea issue.

Cayetano said they would pursue a strategy that would guarantee the peaceful conduct of addressing the conflict following the absence of legally binding mechanism or the code of conduct.

At the same time, the Philippines and Vietnam have been pursuing warmer ties with Beijing, which has taken the sting out of an worldwide court ruling past year, invalidating China's nine-dash line - the controversial marker it uses to claim most of the South China Sea. China appears to have installed the systems in order to protect the island from Vietnamese combat divers.

The agreement suits China's goal of managing rather than solving the disputes, with Beijing still certain that it will eventually reach solutions through bilateral talks, Huang said.

Shortly after taking office, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said he was breaking longstanding ties with the favor of aligning more closely with China.

Duterte produced his seemingly sensational comments while delivering a speech at the National Convention of the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary in Davao City.

Duterte, who met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing this week, said he was making the threat public in response to domestic criticism he was being too weak with China over the dispute.

Christopher Roberts, Associate Professor at the Australian Defence Force Academy campus of the University of New South Wales said he believes any agreement between China and ASEAN will be "code-of-conduct lite".

Reuters notes that some of ASEAN's representatives believe China is playing along with the draft framework merely to "buy time for Beijing to wrap up construction activities", at which point Chinese ownership of everything Beijing covets in the region would be a fait accompli, despite the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruling against Chinese claims of sovereignty past year.

"If the code of conduct will not have a so-called enforcement provision and will not have a dispute mechanism, it will again be in the nature of political declaration", he said.

At a briefing in Beijing earlier this week, Romana said the sides had "turned a new page" on dealing with their South China Sea issues.

China and four ASEAN member states - Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, and Brunei - are claimants to disputed features in the South China Sea.