Beijing:  China on Thursday said it will "directly" negotiate with the member countries of ASEAN on drafting a code of conduct concerning the maritime disputes in South China Sea instead of talking to the bloc.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei was responding to questions about the decision by the 10-nation ASEAN summit in Cambodia that the member countries should reach consensus on the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea dispute among themselves before inviting China, which claims all of it as its own.

The document is important in implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), he said, asserting that China will engage in "direct" parleys with ASEAN members on drafting a code of conduct concerning the South China Sea disputes.

"Ten 10 years ago China and ASEAN countries signed the DOC aimed at upholding peace and stability of the South China Sea. This declaration is not designed to settle disputes of territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests on South China Sea", Hong said.

"ASEAN has reiterated many times that as a regional organisation it does not hold a position on the dispute and it should be peacefully resolved through discussions between claimant countries," he said.

"China and ASEAN countries have been actively implementing the DOC including cooperation on research and projects. Formulating a Code of Conduct on South China Sea is a part of the implementation of DOC and should be reached through direct negotiations between China and ASEAN countries," he said.

ASEAN is comprised of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. In the grouping, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Philippines have been staking their claim to several islands believed to be rich with oil and natural gas.