China hopes to complete talks on S. China Sea code of conduct in 3 years

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-13 18:45:13|Editor: mmm
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SINGAPORE, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- China hopes its talks with Southeast Asian nations on a code of conduct in the South China Sea will bear fruit in three years, visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said here on Tuesday.

China hopes to complete talks on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea within three years, clinching a final deal that will keep enduring peace in the region, Li said in a speech at the 44th Singapore Lecture.

Joint efforts of China and ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) have stabilized the South China Sea. Both sides should seize the opportunity to push for substantial progress on COC talks, Li said.

The COC talks, launched by China and ASEAN countries, are a mechanism of equal participants, independent of external interference, he added.

Li also highlighted the significance of the recent adoption of a single draft negotiating text of the COC.

"The single draft negotiating text is not merely a technical term, but an indication that China and ASEAN have reached consensus on ensuring peace and stability, freedom of overflight and navigation in the South China Sea," he said.

Reaching agreement on the COC will not only be beneficial to China and ASEAN countries but also conducive to free trade, which is in the interest of all sides, Li said.

Li is on the first official visit to Singapore by a Chinese premier in 11 years.

During the Nov. 12-16 trip, he will also attend the 21st leaders' meeting between China and the ASEAN (10+1) and the 21st ASEAN-China, Japan and South Korea leaders' meeting (10+3) and the 13th East Asia Summit.