On Oct. 10, the eighth East Asia Summit, comprising the 10 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) members plus eight other countries including the United States, China and Japan, welcomed "positive progress" on official consultations toward a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

The declaration was included in the chairman's statement issued at the summit to assuage increasing enmity between China and some ASEAN countries over long-standing territorial disputes. But it is not clear whether the code of conduct will be concluded soon because China does not seem very keen on doing so.

Even without concrete progress in negotiations toward the accord, the ASEAN countries concerned and China would be wise to hold consultations from time to time to prevent, at the very least, an accidental military clash.