Recasts to lead with Li’s comments on South China Sea
BEIJING, Oct 26 (Reuters) – China’s Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday called for an expeditation in negotiations with ASEAN countries on a code of conduct framework for the South China Sea, according to the official Xinhua agency.
China hopes the two sides can expand practical maritime cooperation, expedite COC negotiations, and strive for its early conclusion to make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and collaboration, Xinhua quoted Li as saying at the 24th ASEAN-China Summit.
“Next year is the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). China wishes to work with ASEAN countries to mark the occasion with commemorative activities,” said Li.
China, which has for years been locked in maritime disputes with other coastal states in the South China Sea, has in recent years boosted its presence and held exercises in disputed parts of the strategic waterway.
The COC has been a stated goal of ASEAN and China for nearly two decades, but regional security experts have questioned China’s sincerity towards concluding it and doubted whether a legally binding agreement can be forged.
Li at the summit added that China and ASEAN countries will study new areas of cooperation, including the digital economy and green economy, to be included in their free trade deal.
China and ASEAN countries need to harness their geographical proximity and industrial complementarity to pursue regional economic integration at a higher level, Li was quoted saying.
(Reporting by Stella Qiu and Ryan Woo
Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Chizu Nomiyama)