The issue must be resolved in accordance with international law

China has made it loud and clear that the ‘disputes' over the South China Sea should be settled through friendly consultation and negotiation among the sovereign States directly concerned and outside forces should not get involved under any excuse.

In his address at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao maintained that the disputes over the South China Sea among the ‘relevant countries' in the region have existed for many years and have to be settled without interference from outside forces.

Bone of contention

Jurisdiction over the territorial waters of the sea is a bone of contention between China and several southeast Asian nations, including Vietnam. The Indian position has been that the issue needs to be resolved in accordance with the international law and practice. India is stressing on the freedom of navigation and right to passage in these waters, given its importance as a trade route.

“China and the ASEAN countries signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and agreed to advance practical cooperation and work for the final conclusion of a code of conduct,” Mr. Wen said at the Summit.

“This is the common desire of the ASEAN countries and China. We stand ready to work actively with the ASEAN countries to fully implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, enhance practical cooperation and begin discussions on a code of conduct in the South China Sea.”

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