China says ready to work with ASEAN for South China Sea peace

AFP Bangkok, Thailand Nov 03, 2019, 01.00 PM(IST)

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, China's Premier Li Keqiang and Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha pose for a family photo at the ASEAN-China Summit on the sidelines of the 35th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, Thailand. Photograph:( Reuters )

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China's sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea are rejected by several members of ASEAN, which have competing claims in the busy waterway.

China is ready to work with Southeast Asian countries for long term peace and stability in the South China Sea, Chinese premier Li Keqiang said on Sunday after meeting leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

China's sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea are rejected by several members of ASEAN, which have competing claims in the busy waterway.

At the summit in Bangkok, Li cited progress on a long-awaited South China Sea code of conduct, due for completion within three years.

“We are willing to work with ASEAN, under the consensus that had been reached, to sustain long term peace and stability in the South China Sea, according to the timetable set for three years,” Li said in a statement.

A legally binding code has long been a goal for ASEAN members sparring over what they see as China's disregard of sovereign rights and its obstruction of their energy exploration and fishing.