China’s foreign minister said on Friday that his country was willing to work with Indonesia as an informal mediator to “maintain peace and stability” in the South China Sea, amid tensions with neighboring nations over rival claims to the area.
“To maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea and in the region, China is willing to work with Indonesia,” Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in Jakarta.
He also said China was prepared to work “on the basis of consensus toward the eventual adoption of the code of conduct”.
Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations failed to move ahead on the issue at a regional ministers’ meeting in Phnom Penh in July. The dispute prevented Asean from producing a joint communique for the first time in the bloc’s 45-year history.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa has since pushed for implementation of the long-stalled code of conduct, designed to reduce tensions over fishing, shipping rights and oil and gas exploration in the sea.
“The very difficult issue of the South China Sea requires countries in the region, Asean and China to work closely,” Natalegawa said.
“Having met the Chinese foreign minister, I’m assured that diplomacy is still on track.”
China claims sovereignty over almost all of the resource-rich sea, which is home to vital shipping lanes, but the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have overlapping claims.