|Singaporean Minister of Defence Ng Eng Hen
The approach of the ASEAN member states to this issue has been a "pragmatic one", he said at the recent Munich Security Conference in Germany, noting that the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea, signed by ASEAN and China in 2002, took more than five years.
According to the minister, the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting has worked hard to produce consensus on practical measures that prevent mishaps and miscalculations, and to de-escalate issues.
All countries have recognised the critical need for peace and stability in the East Sea because an estimated one-third of all global shipping passes through the waters, Ng said.
ASEAN and China officially approved the draft framework of the COC in the East Sea in August 2017 after four years of negotiations.
The move was the first step of the pragmatic negotiation process for the effective and legally-binding COC, contributing to maintaining peace and stability in the region.
The two sides are scheduled to officially start negotiations for COC in early March.