China will push for the implementation of a code of conduct for the South China Sea – a document that will lessen the risk of escalating tensions in the area-but experts said such an agreement faces obstacles, at least in the short term.
Premier Li Keqiang reaffirmed China’s resolve to safeguard territorial sovereignty at a series of three regional meetings in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, on Thursday, saying the country is willing to adhere to the code, which has been under discussion for more than a decade.
Leaders from the Philippines and Vietnam, countries that have seen maritime tensions with China rise, also attended the meetings.
“China and Southeast Asian countries are close neighbors with common interests and diversified concerns. It is inevitable-not strange at all-that differences emerge among us, but those differences will not affect the general stability in the South China Sea,” Li said at the East Asia summit. “I believe that as long as we treat each other with sincerity and seek common ground while acknowledging differences, there will be no insurmountable obstacles that will stand in our way,” Li said.