by Xinhua writers Qu Junya, Wu Liming
BEIJING, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- The latest developments in the South China Sea illustrate a desire for regional peace as well as a rebuke of foreign meddling.
On Thursday, China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) arrived at a single negotiating text draft for the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea. This marks a big step toward a peaceful resolution of their disputes.
This significant progress, as Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has put it, is akin to jointly building a house. China and ASEAN have integrated 11 different designs into one and readied the groundwork.
The consensus for future COC negotiations came one year after the COC framework was endorsed, and notably, 16 years after the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) was signed.
There were plenty of bumps along the road, too, mostly due to foreign interference; yet those efforts failed to kill the common aspiration of those involved to establish a necessary order, one that would facilitate regional cooperation and prosperity.
The agreement illustrates that a longing for peace outweighs any outstanding differences between the parties. It defeats attempts by non-regional countries to mislead public opinion, provoke confrontation and create tension; dialogue and consultation have proven better at settling disputes than outside meddling.
By staying immune to external interference, China and ASEAN have accomplished a basic set of regulations to guide behavior in the South China Sea. One cannot dismiss their will to create regional rules while thwarting attempts by outsiders eager to play God.
This big step forward is a solid starting point toward creating a South China Sea brimming with peace and cooperation. China's most advanced maritime rescue vessels have been on duty in the region ready to help passing ships and will offer scientific, research or meteorological assistance in the future when needed. In October, China and ASEAN will hold a joint maritime exercise.
The above developments show the ability of regional parties to initiate their own attempts to jointly address security challenges and safeguard regional stability.
Differences are normal, but countries around the South China Sea are capable of properly settling their disputes through consultation and without the interference of outsiders.
As long as China and the countries of ASEAN work hand in hand, the South China Sea will continue to be ruled by peace and cooperation.