China, ASEAN agree on framework for South China Sea code of conduct

China and the members of the Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) nations on Thursday agreed to a draft framework for a code of conduct for the South China Sea. The development is a step towards reducing tensions in the disputed, strategic waterway.

The meeting between Chinese and ASEAN officials was held in the Chinese city of Guiyang. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said the framework was comprehensive and took into account the concerns of all sides. No additional details of the contents of the code of conduct were revealed.

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An estimated $5 million global trade passes through the disputed South China Sea annually. The sea also possesses potentially large reserves of oil and gas. China has claimed the entire waterway as its territorial waters, a claim rejected by Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, Brunei, and Taiwan, nations which share the waterway.

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