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People's Daily Online>>Foreign Affairs

Better ties hold key to South China Sea disputes

By Cheng Guangjin (China Economic Net)

08:52, February 14, 2012

BEIJING - China is ready to explore solutions to South China Sea disputes under reasonable conditions, while stressing that the most important immediate task is to advance practical cooperation with Southeast Asian countries to create an atmosphere in which to solve these disputes, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday.

"On the South China Sea issue, China's stance is clear, which is known by the Vietnamese side," ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said at a regular news conference, when asked about Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh's ongoing visit to China.

Minh began a four-day visit to China on Sunday, his first since becoming the country's foreign minister in August.

The two countries are in a dispute over some islands in the South China Sea.

Liu said the two sides have agreed that, considering the overall nature of bilateral ties, the dispute should be resolved through friendly negotiations.

"China is ready to consider exploring solutions to the South China Sea disputes with all relevant parties under reasonable conditions," said Liu.

Of the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations members, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have claims to territories in the South China Sea.

China and ASEAN adopted guidelines on the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in July, which is a non-binding agreement.

Liu said China is open-minded and willing to actively promote the final conclusion of a "code of conduct of parties in the South China Sea" when the conditions are right.

"The pressing task for now is that all parties take opportunities to implement the DOC, and promote practical cooperation in the South China Sea to safeguard regional peace and stability," Liu said.

According to Reuters, Vietnam is opening up to Western defense firms amid tensions in the South China Sea.

Minh met with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi on Sunday. Yang said China was ready to work with Vietnam to implement the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, and enhance political mutual trust, deepen cooperation and properly handle sensitive issues, in order to promote the sustained, sound and stable development of bilateral ties.

Minh said Vietnam cherishes its traditional friendship and cooperation with China.

Zhou Yongkang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, also met with Minh on Monday.

Minh will also go to the southwest province of Yunnan on Tuesday, which borders Vietnam.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

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