FM reaffirms stance on S China Sea

BEIJING – Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Thursday reiterated China’s approach on resolving territorial disputes in the South China Sea, insisting that bilateral negotiations were the only way forward.

Yang made the remarks while meeting Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem on the sidelines of a series of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) related meetings on the Indonesian island of Bali.

Yang said the two countries should take bilateral ties and regional stability into consideration, solve maritime disputes through negotiations and avoid heating up the issue again.

Pham said Vietnam treasured its traditional ties with China and hoped to reach consensus with Beijing on the maritime dispute at an early date through peaceful negotiations.

On the same day, Yang and his ASEAN counterparts officially approved guidelines on conduct in the South China Sea, a sign of progress toward the peaceful solution to the issue.

The one-page document is intended to drive the process of making the 2002 Declaration of Conduct (DOC) in the South China Sea more concrete.

“This afternoon … the ministers of China and ASEAN countries formally endorsed the guidelines and also started implementation – fully and comprehensively – of the DOC,” Reuters quoted Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin as saying.

“We are determined to increase our cooperation with ASEAN countries. We’re looking to the future, we have a bright future,” he said.

“We want to be a good friend, good partner and good neighbor with ASEAN countries.”

Yang told his Vietnamese counterpart that China highly appreciates the agreement reached by senior officials from China and ASEAN nations on the guidelines of the DOC and called on all sides to take substantive measures to promote practical maritime cooperation.

China has repeatedly stated its indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and their surrounding waters.

There was no dissension from any country over China’s sovereignty of the area until the 1970s, when nations including Vietnam and the Philippines made claims.

In late May, the Vietnamese Ministry of Defense reported that a Chinese patrol boat slashed a submerged cable of an oil and gas survey ship operated by PetroVietnam, Vietnam’s state energy company.

A similar incident occurred two weeks later when a Chinese patrol boat cut the cables of a Vietnamese ship conducting seismic surveys off its southern coast, Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry reported.

China has denied the accusation, saying “the law enforcement activities by Chinese maritime surveillance ships against Vietnam’s illegally operating ships are completely justified”.

Also on Thursday, Yang met his counterpart Kim Sung-hwan from the Republic of Korea. They discussed inter-Korean relations and the resumption of the Six-Party Talks aimed at ending the nuclear program of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Source: China Daily

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