China’s Premier Li Keqiang said that Beijing hoped a consultation with Southeast Asian nations on a code of conduct in the disputed South China Sea would be completed in three years and that such a deal would bolster free trade.
China also hopes to come to an agreement on its ongoing trade dispute with the United States based on mutual respect and trust, Li said at a function in Singapore, adding that “there are no winners in any trade war”.
China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed in August on a working text to continue the long drawn-out negotiations over the code of conduct in the South China Sea.
Some ASEAN members and China have overlapping claims to islands in the sea, one of the world’s busiest waterways. For years, they have been discussing a pact to prevent an escalation of disputes.