“China is also willing to work with Asean countries to fully and effectively implement the [Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea] and jointly maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

The binding code is intended to manage tensions in the South China Sea, a resource-rich and strategically important waterway that is subject to overlapping claims from China and several Asean members, such as the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has ignored an international court ruling that its claims have no legal basis.

Balakrishnan welcomed China’s continued interest in broadening and deepening its engagement with Asean, Singapore’s foreign ministry said.

During the meeting, both nations reaffirmed their relationship, which had remained strong even amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

US to gain expanded access to Philippine military bases in bid to counter China


US to gain expanded access to Philippine military bases in bid to counter China

Qin stressed Singapore’s importance as a cooperative partner to China and said China viewed the city state’s unique role in regional and international affairs with great importance.

Both China and the US are stepping up engagement with Southeast Asia. The US has accused China of acting aggressively in the South China Sea with the deployment of military vessels, which Washington has said caused unsafe encounters with US vessels. But Beijing said US military deployment to the region was a provocation.

Qin will visit Indonesia, the current Asean chair country, from Tuesday to Thursday at the invitation of the Indonesian foreign minister, Retno Marsudi.

Marsudi said earlier this month that Indonesia planned to intensify talks with China and other Southeast Asian countries to finalise the South China Sea code of conduct, with the first round of negotiations to be held in March.

It will be Qin’s first trip to Indonesia since he became foreign minister. According to the Indonesian ministry, Qin will also pay a courtesy call to President Joko Widodo in Jakarta during his trip.