China and rivals sign pact to ease maritime tensions

The US guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens is shwon docked in Manila on March 9, 2013China, the United States, Japan and more than a dozen other Asia-Pacific countries have signed a naval agreement aimed at ensuring miscommunication between ships at sea does not escalate into conflict. The Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, which was agreed Tuesday in the eastern port city of Qingdao, would reduce the potential for “situations to arise that could lead to conflict in busy sea lanes”, the state-run China Daily said. China is embroiled in a series of territorial disputes with neighbours in the South and East China Seas which have frequently led to military jets being scrambled but not open conflict. Gary Li, an analyst with the consultancy IHS, described the agreement as “the ideal thing for China to grab hold of — the rules of the road.”

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