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Chinese representatives have said yes to a set of guidelines that may resolve disputes in the South China Sea. It's a first step to balancing the claims of six countries in the region--including China, Japan, and Vietnam--who've had recent conflicts at sea.
Senior Chinese officials said on Wednesday that they've agreed to a set of guidelines to resolve long-standing South China Sea disputes. The agreement was reached at the annual ASEAN meeting held in Bali, Indonesia.
[Pham Quang Vinh, Vietnam Assistant Foreign Minister]:
"This is a significant and good start for us to work together, to continue dialogue and cooperation with a view to further promote peace and confidence in the region."
The agreement is called the DOC—or Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
[Liu Zhenmin, China Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs]:
"There are guidelines on the implication of the DOC. We're going to submit the final endorsement by our foreign minister tomorrow. And we also decided that we are going to continue the implementations of our agreed projects."
According ABC Radio Australia News, the former secretary-general of ASEAN says the DOC is the product of compromise between 11 nations and so, (quote) "This is a work in progress."
He also says the difficulty lies in how Chinese authorities are giving mixed signals about what exactly their claim on the waters is.
The South China Sea is along major international shipping routes—and is believed to have large oil and gas deposits.