China to safeguard sea stability: Li

By Xinhua – Global Times Source:Global Times - Xinhua Published: 2017/11/14 22:48:40

Countries in S.China Sea return to ‘right track’ of talks

China will firmly safeguard the freedom of navigation and overflight around the South China Sea, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Tuesday at the 12th East Asia Summit.

Li said China is the largest country in the South China Sea and a major country that uses the lanes in the sea, thus it shows more interest in safeguarding peace, stability, and navigational freedom in the South China Sea than any other country in the world.

He stressed that peace and stability in the South China Sea benefits all countries, and with the joint efforts of China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the situation in the South China Sea tends to remain stable and shows positive signs.

The related countries in the South China Sea issue have returned to the right track of negotiations and consultations, and their relations have constantly improved, he said.

"Leaders of the ASEAN countries and I jointly announced yesterday the start of consultations on the text of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea," Li said.

The COC framework was adopted in August by a meeting of ASEAN and Chinese foreign ministers.

The Chinese premier said the framework fully represents the common will of the regional countries, and that they should properly handle differences through dialogue and negotiation, and safeguard the peace and stability of the South China Sea.

It also shows the confidence, wisdom, and capacity of the regional countries to properly settle the South China Sea issue in order to make it a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation, he said.

During the 20th ASEAN-China, Japan and South Korea (10+3) leaders' meeting, Li said China expects to work with ASEAN on the basis of friendly negotiations to implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and to push for consultations on the COC.

The ASEAN-China dialogue was established in 1991 and elevated to a strategic partnership in 2003, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

China proposed the formulation of a vision for strategic partnership between China and ASEAN toward the year 2030 to upgrade cooperation, the Chinese premier said on Monday.

Li said China-ASEAN cooperation will have more global substance and build a new exemplar for South-South cooperation.

He added that it is a consensus of ASEAN nations that China-ASEAN relations are the most vibrant and have the richest content among relations ASEAN has with its partners. China was the first major country outside the bloc to endorse the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, to form a strategic partnership with ASEAN, and to start free trade area talks with it.

Established in 1967, ASEAN is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

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