BEIJING, May 02 (Press Shia) – China on Tuesday welcomed a statement from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit and reaffirmed cooperation with ASEAN on the South China Sea issue.

“We read the chairman’s statement from the 30th ASEAN summit concerning the South China Sea issue. With the joint efforts, the situation is becoming more positive,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang at a daily press briefing.

According to the statement, ASEAN leaders noticed improvements in cooperation between ASEAN and China, and welcomed progress on a framework for the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) to be completed mid-2017.

China was ready to work with ASEAN countries to implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), deepen maritime cooperation, agree on a timely negotiation-based COC, and jointly maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, Geng said.

The spokesperson said China and ASEAN members are scheduled to finish consultation on a draft COC in the first half of 2017.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of ASEAN. Geng congratulated the organization on its development and spoke highly of the contributions it has made to regional peace, stability and prosperity.

He also voiced support for ASEAN’s efforts to build a community, its core status in regional cooperation and larger role in international and regional affairs.

“We believe ASEAN will achieve greater development with the joint efforts from the Philippines, which holds the rotating chair, and other member states,” Geng added.

XINHUA/Press Shia