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International relations

China, ASEAN still far from South China Sea code of conduct

Leaders endorse framework after 17 years, but the 'legally binding' question remains

China has created concrete landscapes on reclaimed islands in the South China Sea that were previously little more than reefs and sand bars. REUTERS/Erik De Castro   © Reuters

MANILA -- The leaders of China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have formally endorsed the framework adopted by their foreign ministers in August for a code of conduct (COC) to handle overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea.

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