Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China to speed up and finalize negotiations on a code of conduct on the South China Sea.
Asean leaders commenced official talks with China on the code of conduct during the 20th Asean-China Summit in Manila on Monday (13/11).
"All of us want the South China Sea to be a stable, peaceful area that not only supports economic activity but brings the region – and the world – closer together," Jokowi said, as quoted in a statement issued by the presidential office press bureau.
He said wrapping up negotiations on the code will prove Asean and China's commitment to resolve overlapping claims in the disputed waters.
China claims nearly all of South China Sea, while Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines also claim parts of the strategic waters.
The foreign ministers of Asean member states and China adopted a framework for the code of conduct on maritime disputes in August, though it remains to be seen whether the final product would be legally binding.
Jokowi also emphasized mutually beneficial economic cooperation during Monday's meeting, and touched on Asean's current trade deficit and the importance of reducing trade barriers.
"Trade must be mutually beneficial and must be increased from last year's $368 billion," he said.
The president further pointed to the importance of synergy for cooperation on infrastructure and connectivity, especially in regards to China's Belt and Road initiative and Asean's connectivity master plan.
"I am sure that good relations between Asean and China can only be further strengthened and will bring benefits to both," Jokowi said.
In a joint statement, Asean and China agreed to "intensify cooperation and assistance to combat corruption," as part of efforts to enhance regional cooperation under the Asean-China Strategic Partnership.
Asean member states and China will seek to enhance cooperation in law enforcement, financial intelligence and capacity building for effective prevention and detection of corruption.
Furthermore, they also aim to "promote the sharing of experiences, best practices and exchange of views" to strengthen anticorruption efforts and the implementation of domestic laws and regulations to combat and prevent corruption.
Asean and China also highlighted the role of witnesses in identifying and prosecuting corruptors and said they would develop "an effective protection system for witnesses in corruption cases, where appropriate."