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Politics

Pacific nations agree on maritime code of conduct

QINGDAO, China -- Naval officials from Japan and elsewhere have endorsed guidelines for unexpected maritime encounters in an effort to keep such events from escalating into full-blown conflict.

     The Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea was adopted Tuesday on the first day of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium here. Twenty-one countries, including the U.S. and China, are participating.

     Naval aircraft and vessels should not direct fire control radar, used for targeting weapons, at foreign vessels and aircraft when they meet accidentally, the code stipulates. Nor should aircraft fly near a foreign vessel in a provocative manner in such a situation.

     The guidelines are not legally binding. But Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, called them an effective framework in case of a crisis.

     China and the U.S. sought to keep each other in check at the symposium. "Rather than establishing a coalition inspired by a zero-sum game, we should aim for friendly coexistence," said Wu Shengli, the Chinese navy commander, warning the U.S. against deepening its ties with Japan.

     Harris replied that tensions over sovereignty rights are heightening in the Asia-Pacific region and urged dialogue to resolve the issue.

     Wu held meetings as a formality with delegations from many countries but not his Japanese counterpart in light of the territorial dispute between the two countries over the Senkaku Islands, known in China as the Diaoyu. China and Japan have "tense relations, and they should maintain a safe distance at this point," Wu told The Nikkei and other Japanese media outlets.

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