China, Vietnam reach consensus on appropriately handling contested South China Sea

U.S. President Donald Trump left and Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang wave their hands after a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi Vietnam Sunday Nov. 12 2017

News of the arrests was widespread not only in the United States but also in China, breaking just a day before Trump arrived in the country.

Hanoi and Beijing agreed Monday to keep the peace in the sea, the countries said in a joint statement during a state visit to Hanoi by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

After belting out a Tagalog love song with a Filipina singer during the dinner, Duterte said he sang "upon the orders of the commander in chief of the United States", setting off laughter and applause.

Despite unresolved issues, discussions between ASEAN and China have improved, Cayetano said.

Trump acknowledged that China's position on the South China Sea, almost all of which is claimed by Beijing, was a problem.

"I know we've had a dispute for quite a while with China". Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan also have claims in the sea.

This is ASEAN and China's biggest milestone for the past 15 years in crafting a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

Vietnam has become the most vocal opponent of China's moves after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte softened his country's stance on China.

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At the meeting's formal opening on Monday, Duterte made no mention of the South China Sea and pointed to other triggers for a threat of violence in the region.

Mr Trump on Sunday also risked angering China, which he has sought as an ally in curbing North Korea's nuclear ambitions, by offering to mediate in a dispute over Beijing's claims to sovereignty in the South China Sea.

Mr Duterte took steps to thaw frosty relations with China after he won the presidency previous year.

According to experts, the South China Sea is the source of 12 percent of global fishing catch, a vital channel for $5 trillion worth of annual trade, and potentially holds 11 billion barrels of oil reserves and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves.

A separate statement to be issued after a meeting between the ASEAN leaders and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the approval last August of a framework for the code of conduct was "an important milestone", and both sides anticipated an early conclusion of the agreement.

Washington is not among the claimants to the waterway, among the busiest in the world, but it has declared it has a national interest in ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight and the peaceful resolution of the disputes.

"I am not saying there are no problems; I am saying it is getting better", he added.

The players were released on bail last Wednesday and have been staying at hotel in Hangzhou, awaiting a decision from authorities that could range from release to fines to years of detainment.

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