During their meeting, Tillerson, Kono and Bishop stressed the need to protect freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, a key shipping lane believed to be rich in marine and mineral resources.
The statement ASEAN ended up releasing merely expressed concern over "land reclamations and activities" in the area that have "eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region".
This, he said, was due to the "positive momentum" in the disputed waters, stressing that the situation was different from the past and China and the Asean were now working together to ease the tension in the South China Sea.
The diplomat says the South China Sea may be settled faster and will likely not carry sensitive issues that China objects to because the ministers are aware of Beijing's crucial economic and trade relations with ASEAN member states.
As a hard-won result achieved through the joint efforts of the two sides to reach an agreement, the document mirrors the shared commitment to build peace and stability in the waters demonstrated by China and the Asean countries recently.
The ministers expressed serious concerns over maritime disputes in the South China Sea (SCS).
ASEAN and China should establish a set of rules that were "legally binding, meaningful, effective and consistent with worldwide law", Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop, Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement following a meeting in Manila.
The United States likes to accuse Beijing of trying to militarize the South China Sea, but it is the USA and its close allies that are doing that: The United Kingdom being the latest to jump on the freedom of navigation bandwagon by proposing to send warships to the South China Sea next year.
"It's not reflective of the present position", the Foreign Affairs Secretary said. But even this future Code of Conduct, China insists, must not be legally binding.
"At first, there was a word in the framework of the COC about "not being legally binding".
An ASEAN declaration in 1992 called for a code of conduct for disputes involving the South China Sea, as did the 2002 joint declaration with China.
China's claims of sovereignty over the South China Sea were entirely rejected by a decision handed down by a court of arbitration in July a year ago.
On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, we offer congratulations to the peoples and member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as the ASEAN Secretariat, on the organization's 50th anniversary on August 8th.
North Korea is not a dialogue partner of the Asean but is part of the Asean Regional Forum, which include Russia, Japan, the United States, China and South Korea.