China and Southeast Asian countries agreed on Thursday to a framework for a long-mooted code of conduct for the disputed South China Sea, China’s foreign ministry said, as both sides step up efforts to ease tension in the strategic waterway. According to Reuters, China and the members of ASEAN had been hoping to agree on the framework this year, 15 years after committing to draft it. After a meeting between Chinese and ASEAN officials in the Chinese city of Guiyang, China’s foreign ministry said the framework had been agreed upon, but gave no details of its contents. It said the talks had been candid and deep and made positive achievements. All parties “uphold using the framework of regional rules to manage and control disputes, to deepen practical maritime cooperation, to promote consultation on the code and jointly maintain the peace and stability of the South China Sea,” China’s foreign ministry said.