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Chinese Premier urges expedited negotiations of the COC

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivers a speech via video at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Beijing on Nov 13, 2020. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

BEIJING – Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday stressed the need for China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries to expedite the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) negotiations and strive for its early conclusion.

Li made the remarks while attending the 24th China-ASEAN Summit. He said that peace in the South China Sea serves the common interest of China and ASEAN countries. Regional development is the shared aspiration of the two sides, and regional tranquility requires joint efforts.

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Li noted that, over the past year, China and ASEAN have substantively resumed negotiations of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text and made positive progress, despite the impact of COVID-19.

China and ASEAN countries need to harness their strengths of geographical proximity and industrial complementarity to pursue regional economic integration at a higher level

Li Keqiang, Premier, China

"Next year is the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. China wishes to work with ASEAN countries to mark the occasion with commemorative activities," said Li.

The two sides should use it as an opportunity to expand practical maritime cooperation, expedite COC negotiations, and strive for its early conclusion to make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and collaboration, he said.

ACFTA JOINT FEASIBILITY STUDY 

China will work with the ASEAN to officially launch the joint feasibility study to identify other areas for possible inclusion in further enhancing the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA), said the Chinese Premier.

He said China and ASEAN countries need to harness their strengths of geographical proximity and industrial complementarity to pursue regional economic integration at a higher level.

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The joint feasibility study will focus on the digital economy, green economy and other new areas of cooperation, and make the bilateral and regional economic and trade relations more mutually beneficial, open and inclusive, according to the premier.