South China Sea issue seen dogging ASEAN-Beijing meet

South China Sea issue seen dogging ASEAN-Beijing meet
Twelve foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations attend the meeting which aims to discuss economic ties as well as regional concerns such as disputed territory in the South China sea.

BEIJING - Top diplomats from ASEAN and China are in Beijing to mark a decade of strategic ties, with observers waiting to see if Beijing would give a firm commitment on negotiations for a code of conduct in the South China Sea disputes.

Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam is leading the Singapore delegation to the three-day Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting. He met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Wednesday, during which they reaffirmed the two countries' warm and longstanding bilateral relations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said.

Earlier, MFA said issues such as the future direction of ASEAN- China relations, regional developments and preparations for the 16th ASEAN-China Summit in October will be on the agenda.

But the contentious territorial disputes that have hogged headlines in recent months are likely to continue weighing on the meeting.

Beijing has overlapping claims in the resource-rich sea with four ASEAN states - the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei - and Taiwan.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is in China on a week-long official visit, and Premier Li Keqiang exchanged views on the issue during their meeting on Monday.

Speaking to reporters later, Mr Lee noted that Singapore has taken a consistent position on the issue.

He said that while it "cannot really be solved, it needs to be... managed peacefully and in accordance with international law, including the Law of the Sea".

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