ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh made the remarks in a recent written interview with Kyodo News.
He said the 10-member grouping welcomes the proposal of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to fast-track consultations on the code of conduct (COC), including the development of a framework for the code by mid-2017.
"ASEAN and China have agreed to intensify consultations on the COC to meet the deadline,” he said, adding that the bloc is even ready to further accelerate the COC process by presenting specific contents of the code.
He confirmed that three joint working group meetings on the COC have been scheduled in the first half of 2017.
He stressed ASEAN looks forward to concluding a COC that is comprehensive and legally binding to govern the conduct and behaviour of the involved parties in the East Sea to help create a favourable environment for a comprehensive and durable settlement of disputes.
ASEAN remains seriously concerned over recent and ongoing developments in the East Sea, including over land reclamations and an escalation of activities in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region, Minh said.
That is why ASEAN keeps consistently and actively engaging China in its efforts to maintain and promote peace and stability in the East Sea, he explained.
Despites some differences among ASEAN member countries on several issues, including the East Sea one, ASEAN will not leave its consensus principle in decision making, he affirmed.