China, Vietnam reach consensus on appropriately handling contested South China Sea

China, Vietnam reach consensus on appropriately handling contested South China Sea

"The disputes are still there but I think we have found a way to put that as one part of the relationship, small part of the relationship which we have to deal with and then have a bigger part of the relationship which is cooperation in security, economics, education in anti-poverty", he said.

Manila [Philippines], November 14: Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretary General Le Luong Minh has said that the ASEAN was not the venue to resolve sovereignty claims over the South China Sea.

"It is in our collective interest to avoid miscalculations that could lead to escalation of tensions".

President Donald Trump has offered to mediate in the South China Sea disputes, while his Chinese counterpart played down concerns over Beijing's military build-up and the prospects of war in the contested waters.

He reaffirmed that the parties involved are "making giant steps forward" in talking about the code of conduct, a stronger document compared to the non-binding 2002 Declaration of Conduct in the South China Sea.

Four ASEAN members - the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam - have overlapping claims with China in the strategic waterway where about $3 billion in goods pass annually.

President Duterte had, on Sunday, said the territorial dispute was "better left untouched", in his speech at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit.

Leaders from China, the United States and seven other nations are joining ASEAN at their annual summit.

The US and China are both calling for a peaceful resolution but take contrasting positions in most other aspects of the conflict. "It can ill-afford a violent confrontation".

Asean and China also highlighted the role of witnesses in identifying and prosecuting corruptors and said they would develop "an effective protection system for witnesses in corruption cases, where appropriate".

China's official news agency Xinhua said in a commentary that the pact to hold consultations on the code of conduct was "a new starting point to jointly build a sea of peace, stability and prosperity".

"These and other issues are high on the agenda of our meeting". Duterte took steps to thaw frosty relations with China after he won the presidency past year.

Chinese President Xi Jinping returned to Beijing on Tuesday evening after paying state visits to Vietnam and Laos.

Bilateral relations plunged to their lowest level in years in 2014 when China parked a giant oil rig in an area claimed by Vietnam. "He wants it to be a world of peace and stability and we thank him for that".

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