Following the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) foreign ministers meeting earlier this month in Manila, China and Southeast Asian nations announced that they had agreed on a framework for negotiating a code of conduct in the South China Sea. In theory, a code of conduct would set guidelines on activities allowed in the Sea, including militarization and land reclamation. Both Philippine and Chinese leaders touted the adoption of a framework as a serious step toward reducing tensions in the South China Sea. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also announced that Beijing would be willing to launch negotiations about a code in November.
Yet although the two sides have agreed on a framework, it will be almost impossible for Beijing to get ASEAN nations to agree to an actual code of conduct. For more on why a code is unlikely any time soon, see my new article for World Politics Review.