>> At one of Asia's top political summit, China is looming large. Beijing by Monday securing what appears to be a big win at the ASEAN Foreign Minister's meeting in Manila after several Southeast Asian nations joined China in signing off on a framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea.
It's being sold by ASEAN as a step in the right direction, but critics say lengthy discussions about the code could just end up buying Beijing more time to militarized it's infamous man made islands. And as Reuters' Christian Shepherd reports the final agreement may not even have any legal teeth.
>> The code of conduct framework doesn't specify that the final document has been legally binding as some of the claimant's wanted to be the case. Experts has said that this is something that China doesn't necessarily want, so they suggest that things are going China's way. Some critics have suggested that China's current emphasis on code of conduct after a long period of not really paying attention to this document is a way for it to get its own say in the region.
Previously the United States have been a significant limit on the expansion of China's maritime power. China perhaps is seeing this as an opportunity where that role may no longer be played by the United States.>> Leading the charge for Beijing and Manila, charismatic foreign minister Wang Yi. He's been pushing his country's message hard at the summit unlike his opposite number from the US.
>> Wang Yi has been everywhere in this conference, he's been talking to reporters all the time and he's been really trying to push China's narrative on issues such as the South China Sea and North Korea. This is a stark contrast to Tillerson who at least for the first day of his being here in Manila, was largely absent.
This suggests that China is becoming increasingly confident and comfortable in the region to push its own views.>> The South China Sea has long been a dividing issue among the ASEAN group with several Southeast Asian nations also claiming rights to the islands that Beijing is building up. This latest episode yet another sign that although certain countries may not like what China is doing, they're simply too wary of risking Beijing's wrath to stand in the way.