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China, Asean agree to 10-year China Sea protection pact

14 November 2017

President Trump personally asked his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to help resolve the case of three UCLA men's basketball players who were arrested for shoplifting while in Hangzhou for a tournament last week, people familiar with the situation said Monday.

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.

China proposes the formulation of a vision for strategic partnership between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) toward the year 2030 to upgrade cooperation, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Monday.

China claims almost all of the strategically vital sea, through which $5 trillion in shipping trade passes annually.

The US is not a claimant to the potentially oil-rich and busy waters, but it has declared that it has a national interest in ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight and the peaceful resolution of the dispute.

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According to the new "Declaration for a Decade of Coastal and Marine Environmental Protection in the South China Sea (2017-2027)", the leaders note that "the current environmental situation in the South China Sea requires collective attention and action to protect the marine ecosystem and biodiversity". Its claims are contested by Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei.

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte discussed the issue with Mr Xi during a meeting in Danang, Vietnam, where they attended the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum last week.

Duterte has grown closer to China since he took office a year ago and Vietnam has emerged as Beijing's main challenger in the area. It announces that both sides have agreed to officially start negotiations on the code.

Tensions over the sea spiked earlier this year when Vietnam suspended an oil exploration project in an area of the waterway also claimed by Beijing, reportedly over pressure from its powerhouse communist neighbor.

It's "important that we cooperate to maintain peace, stability, freedom of navigation in and over-flight above the South China Sea in accordance with worldwide law", they said.

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We'll update this story as it continues to develop.

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

China insists that the territorial issues should be handled directly between countries in the region.

According to a report over the weekend from ESPN, the players could be in China for another week or two, dependent upon how quickly the legal process can be resolved.

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China, Asean agree to 10-year China Sea protection pact