KUALA LUMPUR: ASEAN has told China that it must co-operate to speed up efforts to draw up the Code of Conduct (CoC) for the South China Sea.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said although no deadline had been set, the CoC needed to be completed soon amid rising concerns over China's activities in the disputed area.
"We are concerned about the reclamation that is happening in the South China Sea. Hopefully, they will give a positive response," he told a media conference in the run-up the 26th ASEAN Summit here beginning tomorrow.
ASEAN member countries Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei, along with Taiwan, are involved in the maritime territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.
In 2002, ASEAN and China agreed on a Declaration on the Conduct (DoC) of Parties in the South China Sea, a document which, among others, reaffirmed the parties' commitment to international law.
The parties have since been working to draw up an official and binding CoC to further promote peace and stability.
Tensions in the disputed areas have however continued to flare up due to actions by several claimant countries. China, in the most recent incident, was reported to be claiming parts of the contested Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands.
Anifah said ASEAN's stand on the South China Sea issue was that it wanted to see the DoC implemented and that discussions on CoC, which would set guidelines for claimant states, be hastened.
"The area is one of the busiest shipping lanes and this issue affects security and stability throughout the region," he said.
The foreign minister gave an assurance that ASEAN leaders would be discussing the issue at the summit.
He said apart from issues being taken up by claimant parties, ASEAN needed to update its members on the South China Sea issue because it was the regional grouping's policy to reach a consensus before making a decision.