Chinese FM refutes rumors over South China Sea amid pandemic

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/24 18:13:31

Wang Yi Photo: Xinhua

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi refuted rumors at a press conference on Sunday that China was escalating activities in the South China Sea to achieve its strategic goals. 

Such claims were "nonsense and groundless," Wang said on the sidelines of the annual two sessions.

The sea served as a bridge for China's cooperation with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, he said. 

"That China is taking advantage of the epidemic to expand its power in the South China Sea is nonsense," Wang said. 

"What doesn't defeat us makes us stronger," Wang said to describe China-ASEAN ties, vowing to improve economic ties, people-to-people exchanges and increase cooperation in the "blue economy," a reference to sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.

"The fact we have seen is that recently China has been focusing on the cooperation with the ASEAN countries against the COVID-19," Wang said.

The two sides supported and helped each other, he noted, and mutual trust has been strengthened.

"The South China Sea is becoming a sea serving cooperation and mutual assistance between China and ASEAN countries in the fight against COVID-19 as ships and planes loaded with anti-epidemic supplies are shuttling back and forth in the sea," Wang said.

A small number of countries outside the region continued to send military aircraft and warships into the sea "to show off their military strength, frequently drive a wedge between China and ASEAN countries, and deliberately undermine the hard-won stability in the sea. Such acts are ill-intentioned and despicable," he said.

In recent years, thanks to the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries, the situation in the South China Sea has been steadily improving, Wang noted.

"The cooperation between China and ASEAN in fields such as maritime search and rescue, marine environmental protection and marine scientific research has made a lot of positive progress," Wang said.

Consultations on the draft code of conduct (COC) for the South China Sea were moving forward in an accelerated and orderly manner, Wang said, "and have now entered the second round of review."

China's confidence and determination to reach an agreement on the code were firm and would not be disturbed by any other interference, he said.

"China will continue to strengthen coordination with ASEAN countries, resume COC consultations which were suspended due to the outbreak, and actively explore new ways of maritime cooperation so as to effectively safeguard peace, stability, development and prosperity in the sea," Wang said.

Global Times

Posted in: DIPLOMACY

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