A joint communiqué from China and Cambodia calling for an early adoption of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea will help ensure regional stability as cooperation is the prevailing voice in the region, a Chinese sea expert said Thursday.
The two countries jointly called on surrounding countries to adopt at an early date the COC to make it a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The two sides issued the call in a joint communiqué released after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang concluded an official visit to Cambodia.
It urged them to comprehensively and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea, deepen pragmatic maritime cooperation, promote consultations on the texts of the COC in the South China Sea in an effort to adopt the document at an early date based on a negotiated consensus.
"The call shows the enhanced mutual trust between China and Cambodia. It will help ensure the stability in the region and increase cooperation, which is expected from countries in the region," Liu Feng, a Hainan-based expert on the South China Sea, told the Global Times on Thursday.
As a non-claimant state, Cambodia has been fair and neutral in the South China Sea disputes, and the joint communiqué is a good example for greater practical cooperation for China and other countries in the region, Liu said.
Both countries are delighted to see that the situation in the South China Sea remains steady and continues to improve, the communiqué said.
While in Cambodia, Li also attended the second Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) leaders' meeting, which Liu thinks also helps China to increase trust and clear misunderstanding with LMC member countries, including Vietnam.
In November 2017, China and Vietnam, who have disputes in the South China Sea, released a joint statement to manage disputes and maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.
The DOC, signed in 2002 by China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states, states that the parties concerned shall resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, friendly consultations and negotiations.
Xinhua contributed to this story