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Patrols in China waters to go on, says general

(Shanghai Daily)

08:32, June 03, 2013

Chinese warships will continue to patrol waters where China has territorial claims, a top general said yesterday, amid simmering rows with neighboring countries over the South China Sea and islands in the East China Sea.

Lieutenant General Qi Jianguo, deputy chief of the general staff of the People's Liberation Army, defended the patrols as legitimate and said his country's sovereignty over the areas could not be disputed.

"Why are Chinese warships patrolling in East China Sea and South China Sea? I think we are all clear about this," Qi told the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore.

"Our attitude on the East China Sea and South China Sea is that they are in our Chinese sovereignty. We are very clear about that," he said. "So the Chinese warships and the patrolling activities are totally legitimate and uncontroversial."

Qi said China's hope for sustained peace and stability in the region and stress on dialogue and consultation for the sake of peace by no means denoted unconditional compromise.

"Our resolve and commitment to safeguarding core national interests always stands steadfast," Qi said. He said China upholds an open spirit of not only taking strides toward the world, but also welcoming the world to engage with China with the aim of sharing resources and creating a better future.

"For this end, we should discard cold-war mentality, go beyond the outdated zero-sum games, and refrain from building military alliances, setting imaginary enemies and taking actions against a third party," he said.

To realize prosperity, stability and development of the Asia- Pacific region, one cannot merely rely on the efforts of a single nation, nor on expansion and plundering, even less on the obsession with use of force, Qi said. The only way forward was to make cooperation the overriding principle.

"We believe that win-win development entails sharing of interests, one should take the legitimate concerns of others' into consideration instead of only maximizing one's own interests," Qi said.

"China has never taken foreign expansion and military conquering as a state policy," he said.

"Although recently hot-spot issues in China's neighboring area keep cropping up, we have always held that conflicts and disputes should be solved through dialogue, consultation and peaceful negotiation."

Qi repeated China's stance that it wanted to resolve disputes through bilateral negotiation. Some of the countries want multilateral talks, feeling China's size is too much of an advantage in direct talks.

He also repeated China's stance on North Korea, where the United States is seeking Chinese assistance in resolving problems with Pyongyang, which has raised tensions with a series of rocket launches, an underground nuclear test and threats of nuclear strikes against the US and its allies. Qi said China wants the tension on the Korean Peninsula reduced through talks.

In answer to a question, Qi dismissed concerns of an imminent collapse in North Korea.

"I think we are overestimating the situation in North Korea. As far as we know, it is stable and we don't see any sign of breakdown in the country," he said.

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