Accord on Asean-Chinasea code still far off
A CODE of conduct for handling disputes in the South China Sea should be discussed "gradually", Beijing said after meetings with South-east Asian nations, suggesting that any agreement is still far off.
A joint working group to carry out "concrete consultations" on the code was agreed on, the foreign ministry said in a statement posted late on Sunday.
Officials from China and Asean held two days of talks in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou over the weekend.
Asean has been trying for over a decade to secure agreement from China on a legally binding code of conduct.
Competing claims to the sea have, for decades, stirred tension in the region, and the waterway has long been seen as one of Asia's potential military flashpoints.