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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, center, links arms with ASEAN foreign ministers during their annual meeting in Manila, Philippines, Aug. 6, 2017 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

The ASEAN-China Breakthrough in the South China Sea That Wasn’t

Monday, Aug. 21, 2017

Earlier this month, following a foreign ministers’ meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the Philippines, China and its Southeast Asian neighbors announced that they had agreed on a framework, or broad outline, for negotiating a code of conduct in the contested South China Sea. In theory, a code of conduct, or a set of accepted norms, could set guidelines on activities allowed in the sea, including militarization and land reclamation. Any code would not resolve territorial disputes, though.

Both Philippine and Chinese leaders touted the adoption of a framework as a step toward reducing tensions in the South China Sea. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced that Beijing would also be willing to launch negotiations about a specific code of conduct in November. ...

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