NAY PYI TAW, May 11 (Xinhua) -- Leaders of Southeast Asian countries said here Sunday that they would strengthen cooperation for the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).
In a declaration adopted at the leaders'meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the leaders said this should be done in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The leaders especially called on all parties to exercise self- restraint and non-use of force, as well as refrain from taking actions that would further escalate tension, said the just adopted Nay Pyi Taw Declaration on Realization of the ASEAN Community by 2015.
The leaders also urged all parties to work towards an early conclusion on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea as reflected in ASEAN's Six-Point Principles on the South China Sea.
The declaration followed a statement of ASEAN foreign ministers issued here Saturday, expressing"serious concerns"over the ongoing developments in the South China Sea.
In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said later Saturday that the South China Sea issue is not a problem between China and ASEAN.
"The Chinese side is always opposed to one or two countries' attempts to use the South China Sea issue to harm the overall friendship and cooperation between China and ASEAN," she said.
Hua said China stands ready to work together with ASEAN to continue implementing the DOC comprehensively and effectively to safeguard peace and stability in the region.
China and ASEAN member countries signed the DOC in 2002 and pledged to maintain restraint and not to conduct activities that might complicate or escalate disputes in the region.
In a latest development in the South China Sea, Vietnam, from May 3 to 7, dispatched 36 vessels of various kinds to waters of the Xisha Islands where a Chinese company was carrying out drilling operations to ram Chinese vessels for as much as 171 times.
The Chinese vessels at the scene are only government vessels and civil vessels, but the Vietnamese side has many armed vessels deployed there, according to Yi Xianliang, deputy director-general of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs of China's Foreign Ministry.
In the course of collision, the Chinese side also found frogmen sent by the Vietnamese side five meters away from the Chinese government vessels, Yi said, adding that the Vietnamese side also placed many fishing nets and large obstacles in the waters, not only posing security threats to Chinese vessels and facilities, but also jeopardizing normal navigation security.
The waters of China's drilling operations is only 17 nautical miles away from the Xisha Islands and about 150 nautical miles away from Vietnam, Hua said Friday.
The Chinese company's operation in waters off the Xisha Islands completely falls within China's sovereignty, she said, noting that it is untenable for any country to thwart China's normal oil drilling in its territorial waters and make irresponsible remarks.
Vietnam's actions have violated the international laws, infringed on China's sovereignty and jurisdiction and endangered navigation freedom, she added.
China has stated repeatedly that the Xisha Islands are inherent territory of China and this is undisputable.