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International relations

Beijing presses ASEAN anew for South China Sea code by 2021

Premier Li touts 'ever stronger' ties with bloc in Trump's absence

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, center, prepares for a photo shoot at the ASEAN-China Summit in Bangkok on Nov. 3.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Sunday urged Southeast Asian leaders to wrap up a "code of conduct" for the South China Sea by 2021, after recent flare-ups in the disputed waterway complicated talks on the maritime nonaggression pact.

"We stand ready to work with ASEAN countries within the existing foundation and basis to strive for new progress in the COC, according to the three-year time frame, so as to maintain long-term peace and stability in the South China Sea," Li said in Bangkok, where regional leaders convened for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and East Asia summits.

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