Beijing: China will actively push forward maritime cooperation with the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in light of the guidelines on conduct in the South China Sea, a foreign ministry official has said.
Assistant foreign minister Liu Zhenmin made the remarks during an international seminar on implementing the Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and maintaining the navigational freedom and security of the waterway, Xinhua reported.
Early next year, China will hold a senior officials` meeting and working group meeting with ASEAN countries on the implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), said Liu on the sidelines of a seminar held in Haikou, Hainan province.
The senior officials` meeting is a guiding mechanism for implementing the DOC at governmental level. Under it, China will hold a series of seminars and carry out a set of cooperative projects, so as to further advance cooperation with ASEAN nations, he said.
As an important pathway for foreign trade for China, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the ASEAN nations, security on the South China Sea is critical for these countries` economic development, he said.
Stressing that navigation freedom and security on the sea should be guaranteed, Liu said, China will continue to strengthen cooperation with countries surrounding the South China Sea to protect against threats.
The DOC was signed by China and the ASEAN countries in November 2002 as a code of conduct for all parties involved in diplomatic issues in the South China Sea.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao proposed to establish a three-billion-yuan China-ASEAN maritime cooperation fund at the 14th China-ASEAN summit and the Commemorative Summit to Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of China-ASEAN Relations in November.
China hopes the fund will contribute to the implementation of the DOC and further enhance cooperation with ASEAN nations, said Liu.