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China and ASEAN take a step toward South China Sea rules

Agreed framework leaves out key details

Senior officials from China and ASEAN member countries meet in the Chinese city of Guiyang on May 18.

GUIYANG, China The Chinese government and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations agreed on a framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea on May 18, an internal document obtained by The Nikkei shows. Details such as the start date and legal status, however, have yet to be decided.

ASEAN and China issued a declaration in 2002 on their commitment to prevent conflict in the area, but the document carries no legal weight and the bloc has been negotiating with Beijing for a binding code of conduct ever since.

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