Naypyidaw, Myanmar. Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said on Friday that it was important for members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China “to quickly conclude” the talks on a code of conduct on the South China Sea.
“The recent incident in the South China Sea reminded us of the importance of concluding the code of conduct on that body of water,” said Marty on Friday, ahead of this weekend’s Asean Summit in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyidaw.
China claims sovereignty over nearly all of the resource-rich sea, home to vital shipping lanes, but Asean members including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have overlapping claims.
The South China Sea, which potentially has abundant reserves of crude oil and natural gas, is widely considered as a flashpoint for a potential military conflict with China, which recently has been exerting its influence in the region.
Tensions are high after a collision between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels in the disputed area last week.
Vietnam has accused China of conducting drilling operations outside its territory, while the Chinese government believes otherwise and accuses Vietnam of intentionally provoking the incident, according to a report from Reuters.
“The risk of an incident is very real. I hope the current meetings in Myanmar will reinforce further recognition of that fact,” said the minister.