China is “pleased” to work with ASEAN to implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and speed up negotiations on the Code of Conduct (COC), to jointly make the contentious Asian waters a “sea of peace”, according to Chang Jian, councillor at the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh.

Chang recapped that the DOC was the first political document between China and the 10-nation Southeast Asian bloc on the South China Sea issue, saying that the declaration has significantly contributed to peace and stability in the area.

At a December 20 workshop in Siem Reap province that marked the 20th Anniversary of the signing of the DOC in Phnom Penh, he said that the declaration has fostered “practical” maritime cooperation and promoted the development of China-ASEAN relations over the past 20 years.

“The Chinese side is pleased to work with the ASEAN countries to fully and effectively implement this declaration, as well as to expedite negotiations on the COC to jointly make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation,” Chang said.

The workshop brought together Permanent Representative of Cambodia to ASEAN Heng Sarith and Myanmar ambassador Thit Linn Ohn, as well as experts and intellectuals from China and ASEAN.

In a December 22 social media post, the Chinese embassy noted that the workshop discussed not only the implementation of the DOC, but also the “historic milestones” in the development of China-ASEAN ties.

“The experts and intellectuals appreciated and were satisfied with the active, effective and necessary role of the declaration in managing maritime conditions, enhancing mutual trust and fostering cooperation between China and ASEAN,” the post said.

The workshop discussed in-depth ways to fast-track negotiations on the COC and continue to implement the DOC “effectively and comprehensively”.