China reports progress on South China Sea code of conduct

"In the end, the techniques use energy in the future will undergo a transformation", said Deputy Department of geological research of the Ministry Whether Csinfo. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

The framework now goes under intense scrutiny again to try to draft a final agreement.

China and the ASEAN took a step towards easing tensions in the South China Sea, agreeing to a framework for a "code of conduct" to prevent incidents in the disputed waters.

Asked whether the agreement would be binding, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told reporters: "I can not give you a definite answer now". "The draft framework will be an internal document and nobody should publish it", Liu said.

A code of conduct is the key objective of a 2002 Declaration on Conduct, large parts of which China has ignored, particularly a commitment not to occupy or reclaim uninhabited features.

The draft establishes a solid foundation for the next round of negotiations, said Liu Zhenmin, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, at a press conference.

The United States has criticized the move and called it China's militarization of its maritime outposts and stressed the need for freedom of navigation by conducting periodic air and naval patrols near them that have angered Beijing, according to a Reuters report.

China has territorial claims on most of the South China Sea, a major trading route, through which about $5 trillion in goods pass every year.

The Philippines, which chairs the 10-member ASEAN this year, has expressed hope of finalizing such an agreement during its leadership. One important consensus has been that interference by outside forces will not bring peace and stability, but instead only creates uncertainties and undermines the interests of both China and Asean member states.

Under the Philippines' chairmanship of ASEAN, China's relative bargaining position has clearly improved with the Southeast Asian grouping.

The disputed territories in the South China Sea. Most notably, in 2012, ASEAN leaders failed to issue a joint statement after a summit in Cambodia over these divisions.

India has earlier taken part in the Malabar naval exercises with Japan and the U.S. in the East China Sea.

But Beijing's expansive claims in the sea overlap Indonesia's exclusive economic zone - waters where a state has the right to exploit resources - around the Natunas. The award resolved a case that the Philippines under Aquino had filed in early 2013 after the highly publicized 2012 stand-off with Beijing over Scarborough Shoal.

All parties have agreed to manage and control their differences under the framework of regional regulations, the Foreign Ministry said in a news release.