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NEWS UPDATES 6 August 2010

Asean wants formal sea code

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The10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) wants a formal code of conduct in the South China Sea to avoid tension around disputed territories, a senior Filipino diplomat said on Friday.

Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, China and Taiwan all stake claims over territory in the South China Sea.

All except Brunei have a military presence in the area, and the boundary claims have sparked deadly naval clashes. 'We should start talking about the provisions of a regional code of conduct and this is to ensure that the South China Sea remains a peaceful and stable place where vessels can pass safely,' Erlinda Basilio, foreign affairs undersecretary for policy, told a media forum.

Southeast Asian states are worried by China's increasingly aggressive stance on the complex set of disputes.

Last week, Chinese naval forces carried out drills in the disputed southern waters amid tension with Washington over security on the Korean peninsula and in the South China Sea.

In 2002, China and Asean signed a declaration to halt military activities and promote cooperation on scientific, environment and non-military projects to lessen tension after China and Vietnam fought a naval battle in the late 1980s.

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