US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged China and other south east Asian nations to continue negotiations on resolving disputes in the South China Sea. A major regional summit failed to make progress, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Diplomats from China and the US, as well as the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, met in Cambodia to conduct talks on a proposed Code of Conduct. According to people familiar with the proceedings, tempers begin to crack as China was keen on dodging negotiations at the table. Leaders were divided between pressing for a binding regional code and bilateral negotiations on resolving disputes between claimants.

Clinton told reporters that the discussions hadn’t moved forward or made any significant progress, but she lauded the regional bloc’s efforts to bring the issue to the table. “I think it is a sign of ASEAN’s maturity that they are wrestling with some very had issues here,” Mrs. Clinton added.

The South China Sea is a crucial international shipping lane which carries half of the world’s total trade. China claims most of the waters while the islands, including waters surrounding them, are claimed by Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi reiterated that it would negotiate bilaterally rather than in a regional group, adding that China supports freedom of navigation in disputed waters.