China to build 'shared future' with 'good friend' ASEAN, Chinese premier says

Image US President Donald Trump and Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang

China claims almost all of South China Sea, while Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines also claim parts of the strategic waters.

In August, foreign ministers of the ASEAN states and China agreed to formally endorse a framework for a code of conduct on the South China Sea that was said to "cement" the regional bloc's members' and Chinese commitments to negotiate a binding code to ease tensions in the disputed waters. So we welcome that offer, let's see how everyone's response. For one, China has steadfastly opposed what it calls U.S. meddling in the disputes and has balked at the U.S. Navy's incursions into what Beijing considers its territorial waters in the South China Sea.

The statement will be issued after a meeting later between China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the Philippines capital, a diplomatic source said.

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

Vietnam has become the most vocal opponent of China's moves after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte softened his country's stance on China.

In a press conference, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Asean maintained its stance to pursue "peaceful" negotiations with China to resolve sea disputes. "It can ill-afford a violent confrontation".

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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".

"I request some latitude because there are a lot of issues (that) when you talk about it, it harms the negotiation, or makes it more emotional or more subject to you nationalist feelings", Cayetano told reporters at the Marriott Hotel on the sidelines of an informal trilateral meeting with Indonesia and Malaysia.

Duterte revealed that Chinese President Xi Jinping signaled to him during a meeting that he wanted peace in the region, saying he does not want to "waste the lives of my countrymen for a useless war that can not be won by anyone".

Duterte has grown closer to China since he took office a year ago and Vietnam has emerged as Beijing's main challenger in the area. "He wants it to be a world of peace and stability and we thank him for that".

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