The statement also appealed to ASEAN members and China.
In a press briefing after hosting the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, Cayetano said he initially objected to including the phrases "non-militarization" and "land reclamation" from the meeting's statement because it no longer reflected current developments in the dispute in the South China Sea.
In a joint statement after their foreign ministers met on the sidelines of the same gathering on Sunday, the US, Japan and Australia delivered a noticeably sterner rebuke to Beijing.
The two participated in other multilateral meetings in Manila, including one between China and the 10 ASEAN ministers. Prak Sokhonn said Wednesday that the adoption of a framework for the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea is a very positive step for the ASEAN-China relations. Since 2012, China has stepped up island reclamations and construction in the disputed territories in the South China Sea, including building structures that appear to have military capabilities.
Tensions between China and Vietnam have increased in recent months over disputed territory in areas of the South China Sea that are rich in oil and gas.
"We also fully recognize the trend towards relaxation in the South China Sea", he added.
All eyes are on U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as he joined other leading nations' foreign ministers at the ASEAN conference in the Philippines.
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The documents detailing the new framework have not been distributed to the public due to the sensitive provisions they contain, and when asked by journalists about their contents, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was evasive, saying: "we don't want to prejudge the result of those negotiations".
Their trade amounted to US$452.2bil (RM1.9 trililon) previous year, and now about 2,700 flights connect China and the 10 countries in every week.
The new research led by Bonnie Glaser with Center for Strategic & International Studies finds an estimated 3.37 trillion dollars in trade passed through the South China Sea in 2016.
Tensions flared in recent years over China's island-building works in one of the most disputed regions, where US naval and aerial patrols have challenged Beijing's claims.
"At first, there was a word in the framework of the COC about "not being legally binding". But even this future Code of Conduct, China insists, must not be legally binding.
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday sent a congratulatory message to Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, which is the rotating chair of the Association of Southeastern Asian Nations (ASEAN), on the 50th founding anniversary of the regional organization.
It is now expected to be released on Monday with the statements by the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF, which addresses security issues) and the East Asia Forum (EAS), which both include all the Asia-Pacific nations-but only if they come to a consensus regarding the North Korea clause.
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