Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

China reports progress on South China Sea code of conduct

Liu said the content of the COC draft framework reflects the basic principles and spirit of the DOC.

The Philippines, which chairs the 10-member ASEAN this year, has expressed hope of finalizing such an agreement during its leadership.

The 23rd Senior Officials Consultations will convene in Guiyang on Friday, and the first bilateral consultation between China and the Philippines on the South China Sea is also scheduled for Friday in Guiyang.

Chinese defence systems had been installed on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands. Islands in the South China Sea face rival claims from Vietnam, Brunie, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan.

In China, the hydrate has been widely detected in permafrost in areas like the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, as well as under the South China and East China seas. Notably, observers will be watching for any indication that the framework includes the sort of binding provisions that have always been expected but seen as unattainable given what once seemed as an unbridgeable gap between China and the forward-leaning ASEAN claimant states, including Vietnam and the Philippines under the previous government led by Benigno Aquino III.

The Philippines, chairman for this year's ASEAN, earlier promised to finish the framework in June.

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China has conducted extensive land reclamation work at Fiery Cross Reef, including building an airport, one of several Chinese-controlled features in the South China Sea where China has carried out such work.

The samples came from the Shenhu area in the northern part of the sea, starting last Wednesday about 200 meters below the seabed at a depth of 1,266 meters, the China Geographical Survey said. The former president, Benigno Aquino took Beijing to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague over China's 2012 occupation of the disputed Scarborough Shoal, which lies less than 200 nautical miles from Manila.

Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said the approval of the COC draft framework means that discussion on measures to work through the South China Sea issue and expand marine cooperation is back on track.

The statement also did not mention the Philippines' landmark arbitral victory over China, which invalidated Beijing's sweeping nine-dash line claim over the waters.

For China, the code of conduct is a means to achieving its goal of keeping the USA and its allies from intervening in the matter in the name of freedom of navigation or maintaining regional stability, said Huang Jing, an expert on the region at National University of Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

A Chinese foreign ministry press release said on Thursday that all the parties have agreed to peacefully resolve the SCS disputes through negotiations and dialogue.

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