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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said it has seen progress in drawing up a “code of conduct” to avert clashes in the South China Sea between its members and China.

This comes as the group wrapped up a series of meetings this week.

Erywan Yusof, the second foreign minister of Brunei which currently holds the rotating ASEAN chair, told reporters that the meeting between ASEAN and its dialogue partners were “productive”, Kyodo News reported.

In recent years, some ASEAN member states and China have been in dispute over the South China Sea as Beijing has ramped up military presence in the region.

The country has rapidly built artificial islands with military infrastructure in the sea, home to some of the world’s busiest sea lanes, claiming sovereignty over almost the entire maritime area.

Indo-Pacific region is largely viewed as an area comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea.

China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and its efforts to advance into the Indian Ocean are seen to have challenged the established rules-based system.

It claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.

China has been increasing its maritime activities in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea over the past few months, partly in response to Beijing’s concerns over the increasing US military presence in the region because of escalating Sino-US tensions. (ANI)