Asian Leaders Push for Progress on South China Sea Pact

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, fifth from left, and ASEAN leaders leave the stage following a brief group photo at the start of the ASEAN Plus China Summit in the ongoing 33rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018 in Singapore. Photo: Bullit Marquez / Associated Press
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, fifth from left, and ASEAN leaders leave the stage following a brief group photo at the start of the ASEAN Plus China Summit in the ongoing 33rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018 in Singapore. Photo: Bullit Marquez / Associated Press

SINGAPORE — Southeast Asian leaders and China are touting progress in keeping peace in the contentious South China Sea as they work toward a “code of conduct” to govern navigation routes and other activities in the region.

Speaking at the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Singapore, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang cited the region’s management of territorial disputes as an example and said the trend was toward greater stability.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he wanted at “all cost” to set the rules governing behavior in those seas to avoid trouble.

Duterte told reporters that relations between China and its Southeast Asian neighbors were “excellent” and that friction was between Western nations and China. He said a code of conduct was needed to avoid dangerous miscalculations.