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China vows to ensure national sovereignty

By Zhang Yunbi (China Daily)

08:24, May 31, 2012

China expressed an unwavering resolve to protect its national sovereignty and to deal with disputes peacefully, Defense Minister Liang Guanglie said on Tuesday.

Liang made those remarks at a short consultative meeting with defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, following talks on Monday with his Philippine counterpart, Voltaire Gazmin.

The two meetings came amid an impasse over Huangyan Island in the South China Sea. The dispute was prompted by a Philippine warship's harassment of Chinese fishermen in waters off the island on April 10.

Liang called for cooperation, mutual benefit, equality and mutual respect at the meeting, which mainly concerned regional security and strengthening mutual trust and cooperation.

"China will never slough off its responsibility to ensure regional peace and stability, never change its choice of pursuing peace and development, never slacken its efforts to promote regional cooperation, never give up its sincere pursuit of peaceful resolutions to disputes and never waver from its determination to guard its national sovereignty," Liang told his counterparts from ASEAN countries.

On Wednesday, Beijing once again demanded that Philippine vessels leave waters near Huangyan Island.

"China's stance on guarding its territorial sovereignty is unwavering," Liu Weimin, Foreign Ministry spokesman, said at a daily news conference.

Liu also confirmed that the two countries are communicating regularly.

Yang Baoyun, a professor of Southeast Asia studies at Peking University, said Liang's remarks conveyed more than the Chinese armed forces' stance on the Huangyan Island impasse.

"Although the Philippines cannot afford to enter into a large conflict over Huangyan Island, its rival claim over the island won't be withdrawn overnight," Yang said. "And it still wants to bargain with China and involve more third parties."

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