Updated 6:02 PM EDT, Wed, Apr 01, 2020

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China and ASEAN Agree to Frame Guidelines for Unplanned Encounters in the South China Sea

South China Sea Dispute.

(Photo : Getty Images) China and ASEAN countries have agreed to frame a "code of conduct" to avoid maritime confrontations in the disputed South China Sea.

China and ASEAN countries on Wednesday agreed to frame a "code of conduct" by the end of the year to avoid maritime conflicts in the disputed South China Sea, Reuters reported.      

The decision was arrived at an ASEAN meeting in Manzhouli in northeastern China. During the meeting, a consensus was also reached to approve guidelines for a China-ASEAN hotline that would be used during maritime emergencies. This was the third meeting in a year on the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES).     

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"There is another achievement - we reached broad consensus on pushing forward the negotiations on a code of conduct for the South China Sea," China's Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said after the meeting. "All sides agreed to raise the frequency of the negotiations in a situation without interference, and seek to finish a draft framework of the code of conduct by the middle of next year."

The decision to frame a code for Unplanned Encounters comes barely two months after The Hague based arbitration court slammed China's control over disputed territories in the South China Sea as illegal. However, China described the verdict as a farce and a major ploy by western forces.                 

Unplanned encounters in the disputed South China Sea often leads to skirmishes and tension between different claimants. Fishermen and trawlers are often on the receiving end, as they are accused of breaching into claimant's territory.

Earlier this year, Indonesia accused eight Chinese trawlers of illegally entering into its territory in the Natuna islands. The incident flared up diplomatic tension between Beijing and Jakarta.

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