China's sea level obtained a record-high increase because of climate change. (Photo : Getty Images)
Beijing will soon finish the South China Sea Code of Conduct. According to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the finalization of the code will hopefully make negotiations among ASEAN nations smooth-sailing.
Li said there has been "substantive progress" on the drafting of the code.
"We hope to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, let the related sides resolve disagreements through dialogue and for every side to work together to safeguard the peace, stability, and development of the region," said Premier Li.
The U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, protested the current activities of China in the disputed waters. He said that China should stop all activities in the South China Sea.
Wang Yi, a spokesperson for the foreign ministry, said that countries who are not involved in the territorial claim should not get involved in the negotiations.
In 2010, ASEAN nations agreed on following a code of conduct on the use of the South China Sea while territorial issues are being determined.
China is claiming the majority of the sea. About $5 trillion worth of trade is channeled through the sea every year.
Aside from its strategic importance to the Asian region, the South China Sea is rich in marine biodiversity and oil deposits.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that the code of conduct should be based on the framework of the UNCLOS declaration on ownership.
She said, "Given the arbitration has set out some very clear recommendations and findings, that can form the basis of the code of conduct."
"There is a discussion to conclude a framework with China this year. I would urge the ASEAN and the Philippines' leadership to go further and conclude a code of conduct as soon as possible," she added.