China and the 10 other countries in the Association of Southeast Asia Nations have agreed on the outline of a legally binding code of conduct designed to prevent clashes in the strategic South China Sea.
The agreement laid a "solid foundation" for further negotiations, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin was quoted as saying by various Chinese media Thursday.
"All parties have vowed to continue to constructively advance the negotiations" toward the early conclusion of the code of conduct,” Liu said following Thursday's meeting in the southern Chinese city of Guiyang.
The Philippines appreciated the finalization of the draft of the framework, which contained elements that the parties agreed upon and will be presented to Chinese and ASEAN foreign ministers in August for consideration.
"All countries hoped that it would produce needed "political support" from the ministers," Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Chee Wee Kiong said.
However, currently the details of the framework agreement would remain secret. No date was given for the adoption of a full code of conduct.
ASEAN and China had "not agreed on a text of a Code of Conduct, but on an initial framework describing how such a document might be structured" The US State Department responded.
Also Friday, Liu and the Philippines ambassador to Beijing Jose Santiago "Chito" Santa Romana were to meet separately to discuss an agenda for future talks on their dispute over islands and waters in the eastern portion of the South China Sea.
Along with the Philippines, ASEAN members Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei also maintain claims in the South China Sea that overlap with those of China and Taiwan.
An estimated $5 trillion in global trade annually passes through the South China Sea, which is also home to rich fishing grounds and a wealth of oil, gas and other natural resources.