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China, Vietnam reach consensus on appropriately handling contested South China Sea

China, Vietnam reach consensus on appropriately handling contested South China Sea

In July, Vietnam had to suspend an oil and gas exploration project conducted by Spain's Repsol company, under apparent pressure from China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L), also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, holds talks with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang in Hanoi, Vietnam, Nov. 13, 2017. Its claims are contested by Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei.

President Donald Trump has offered to mediate in the South China Sea disputes, while his Chinese counterpart played down concerns over Beijing's military build-up and the prospects of war in the contested waters.

Mr Trump's offer faces major obstacles, as China has steadfastly opposed what it calls U.S. meddling in the disputes and is unhappy about the United States navy's incursions into what Beijing considers its territorial waters in the South China Sea.

Vietnam has also reclaimed land around reefs and islets, but on nowhere near the same scale as China.

The Philippines has made news for its human rights violations, notorious death squads and the bloody drug war overseen by the nation's president, Rodrigo Duterte. "So if I can help you, let me know". "I am a very good mediator", Trump said on his own state visit to Hanoi at the tail end of his marathon tour of Asia.

"We are committed to working with ASEAN to build a community of shared future featuring common ideals, common prosperity and common responsibility", Li said in his opening statement at the ASEAN-China Summit here.

The text of the China-Asean Declaration was released after the leaders of the 10-member Asean, led by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met earlier in the day in Manila.

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Donald Trump arrives in Vietnam.

"Meanwhile, we hope the countries outside the region will respect regional countries' efforts in safeguarding peace and stability in the South China Sea and constructively contribute to that", Geng said.

China initially agreed in 2002 to begin talks on a code, but delayed doing so while carrying out its expansionist strategy.

Asean member-states and China took a three-step process for the completion of an actual code of conduct - adoption of the framework, discussion of modalities for the negotiation of code of conduct, and announcement of start of negotiation for actual, legally-binding document.

Xi spoke about the territorial rifts ahead of the ASEAN summit in the Philippines, which also includes the U.S., China and other global players.

Following Manila's complaint to a United Nations-backed tribunal, the panel ruled past year that China's territorial claims in the sea were without legal basis.

Duterte has grown closer to China since he took office previous year and Vietnam has emerged as Beijing's main challenger in the area.