BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said here Wednesday that his country will continue consultations with Southeast Asian nations on formulating a code of conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.
Addressing the 16th leaders' meeting between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Li said the situation in the South China Sea is generally stable and some existing disputes there will not and should not undermine the overall bilateral relations.
"We all agree that disputes in the South China Sea should be addressed through consultation and negotiation between parties directly concerned," noted the Chinese premier.
China and ASEAN countries, he said, should work together to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea and jointly foster a favorable and more enabling environment for seeking an eventual peaceful solution.
Pending a settlement, relevant parties should work actively for joint development, Li added.
The freedom of navigation in the South China Sea is intact, and the safety of navigation there is guaranteed, he said, noting that more than 100,000 cargo ships from various countries sail through the sea smoothly every year.
Beijing, said the premier, stands ready to continue to work with other countries in the region to maintain the freedom and safety of navigation in the South China Sea.
The Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) is an important political consensus reached by China and ASEAN countries and constitutes the cornerstone for peace and stability in the South China Sea, said Li.
The Chinese premier promised that his country will work with ASEAN members to vigorously promote practical maritime cooperation in the process of full and effective implementation of the DOC
China, he said, will continue to conduct consultations with ASEAN countries on formulating a COC in the South China Sea under the framework of implementing the DOC, and will work with ASEAN countries to advance the formulation process in an active and prudent manner according to the principle of consensus-building.
A peaceful South China Sea is a blessing for all, while a turbulent one benefits none, said Li, adding that the two sides need to work together to turn it into a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.
Li arrived here earlier Wednesday to attend the ongoing series of East Asian leaders' meetings and visit the country, the first leg of his first Southeast Asia tour since assuming premiership in March. The trip will also take him to Thailand and Vietnam.