BANGKOK - ASEAN foreign ministers yesterday intensively discussed ways to reduce and prevent tension in disputed areas in the South China Sea.
Many ASEAN member states such as Vietnam and the Philippines have territorial disputes with China in the sea. But the current situation has improved after China removed its oil rig from a disputed area where Vietnam also claimed sovereignty.
But ASEAN states fear there may be tension and violence again, sooner or later. Many ministers suggested full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea, which ASEAN signed with Beijing in 2002.
The declaration is a non-binding document but the group is engaging with China to try to get a legal binding code of conduct to control behaviour by countries in the sea.
Thai Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow briefed the meeting on progress of the task to establish negotiations with China on the code of conduct.
Thailand is coordinating talks with China. Sihasak will co-chair a meeting today of ASEAN and China with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Measures to reduce and prevent tension at the sea are expected to be discussed as both sides have yet to agree on a code of conduct.