Spotlight: Joint efforts needed to maintain positive momentum in South China Sea

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-08 23:17:40|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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MANILA, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Thanks to joint efforts by China and countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the South China Sea, clouded with uncertainty a year ago, has significantly stabilized today.

Under the Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), China and ASEAN have adopted the framework of the Code of Conduct (COC) and expressed anticipation to conduct further negotiations.

As the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting and related meetings wrapped up here Tuesday, China and ASEAN continued to demonstrate a common will to further preserve the positive momentum of the last year despite attempts of agitation by some countries and western media.

The meetings served as a platform for cooperation and maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in the Sea, in accordance with the consensus between China and ASEAN countries.

Most countries have fully acknowledged that the situation in the Sea is improving, and expressed their approval in the COC, which they believe laid a sound foundation for substantive consultations.

ASEAN foreign ministers also spoke highly of the establishment of a hotline for communication among senior officials in response to maritime emergencies.

The final version of the joint communique has fully acknowledged the improving situation in the South China Sea and spoke highly of the positive achievements by most ASEAN countries in this regard.

China has proposed a three-step vision to step up consultations on the COC, gaining a warm response and support from ASEAN.

First, foreign ministers of China and ASEAN should recognize the COC framework and announce the start further consultations within the year.

Secondly, what principles to be upheld as well as how the COC consultations will be approached shall be discussed at a Joint Working Group Meeting at the end of August.

Thirdly, leaders of China and ASEAN will officially begin negotiations on the text of the COC at the China-ASEAN Leaders' Summit in November.

The DOC and the adoption of COC framework have proven that China and ASEAN have the wisdom and capability to properly manage disputes and preserve peace and stability in the Sea as long as the parties remain sincere, practical and focused while rejecting outside interference.

The situation in the South China Sea has been greatly improved, while the future COC negotiation depends on a favorable atmosphere that requires efforts from all sides.