MANILA -- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member states and China on Sunday, August 6, approved the framework for a code of conduct in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea and targeted to start the negotiations on the actual code by the end of the year.

In a press briefing, Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) acting Spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar said foreign ministers of 10-member regional bloc and China adopted the COC framework at the 50th Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings held here.

Bolivar said they expect a paragraph in AMM Chairman Statement reflecting the adoption of the COC framework. The statement will be issued at the end of AMM on August 8.

He noted that Asean and China also agreed that a meeting will be convened at the end of August to discuss the modalities for the negotiations of the actual COC with the approved framework as the basis for the talks.

“Parallel to this, Asean and China will continue to cooperate on such practical maritime cooperation efforts, including management and prevention of conflicts among parties through confidence building measures, as well as to prevent miscalculations on the ground,” he added.

The three-step initiative towards realizing an effective COC in the disputed waters was proposed by China during the Asean-China Ministerial Meeting held here on Sunday.

“When the situation in the South China Sea is generally stable and if there is no major disruption from outside parties, as a precondition, then we will consider during the November (Asean) leaders' meeting, we will jointly announce the official start of the COC consultations,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told journalists.

Wang said all parties will discuss the principle and plan for the next stage consultation of the COC during the joint working group meeting on the implementation of the declaration on the conduct (DOC) of parties in the South China Sea by the end of the month.

“All in all, China and Asean have the ability and wisdom to work together to maintain regional peace and stability, and we will work out regional rules that we mutually agreed upon so as to open up a bright future for our future relations,” he said.

“We are confident that China-Asean relations will move from a period of rapid growth to a period of maturity and further to build on that to move forward to a comprehensive strategic partnership,” he added. (PNA)