China has pledged to work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations toward a code of conduct for the South China Sea on the basis of consensus, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said at the conclusion of his visit to Southeast Asia on Monday.
The five-day visit took in Indonesia and two of the four countries that have competing claims with China in the South China Sea - Malaysia and Brunei.
The visit came only weeks after an ASEAN ministerial meeting in Phnom Penh during which the Philippines inflamed tensions over the issue.
Yang's visit further emphasizes China's stance of cooperation and peaceful resolution on the South China Sea issue, and will soften tensions in the region, analysts said.
Solving disputes through direct talks between related parties is an important principle and is something that is agreed on by all signatories of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, Yang told Xinhua News Agency.
Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei all agreed on this principle during the visit, he said.
"China's sovereignty over Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters is based on solid and abundant historical and legal basis," said Yang. He said China's "opposition to the internalization and regionalization of the issues in the South China Sea is because it wishes to defend the consensus and the effectiveness of the DOC and maintain peace and stability in the region".
The difficult issue of the South China Sea requires countries in the region, ASEAN and China to work together closely, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said on Friday.
"I'm very much assured that our diplomacy is very much on track," Natalegawa said.
But recent actions by Manila and Hanoi have increased tensions in the region. Manila suggested the new code of conduct be a mechanism to solve territorial disputes, while Beijing believes it should be closer to the DOC signed in 2002 to deepen cooperation and reduce differences.
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