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The South China sea dispute is once again in the spotlight. This week China protested again after the Philippines referred the issue to international arbitrators.
China repeated its objection against arbitration on the matter. As that continues, on Friday, scholars and diplomats gathered in Beijing to discuss the potential for cooperation and development in the South China Sea.
The dispute over territory in the South China Sea has been stirred up again, after the Philippines claimed international arbitration over the sovereignty of the Nansha islands.
The Philippines has applied for arbitration by the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.
China rejects this process.
In recent years, Manila has changed its approach in handling these disputes by refusing to negotiate.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry says disputes over the sovereignty of islands in the South China Sea and overlapping ocean rights in the region should be resolved by the countries concerned through dialogue and negotiation on the basis of respecting history and international law.
Diplomats and scholars had a heated discussion on the future prospects for the cooperation.
In 2002, China and the Association of South East Asian Nations issued the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. At the ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting at the end of last month, Southeast Asian nations called for more progress in drawing up an actual code of conduct.
ASEAN has agreed to try to find common ground on disputed territories ahead of discussions in Beijing later this year.
China says the South China Sea is not an issue between China and ASEAN, but rather between China and some individual ASEAN countries.
Solving disputes through direct talks is an important principle and is something that is agreed on by all signatories of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. China says all parties concerned should work together through consultations to create a Code of Conduct on the condition that the declaration will still be implemented.