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Mutual trust, cooperation essential to formulation of COC: Chinese FM


08:18, July 13, 2012

PHNOM PENH, July 12 (Xinhua) -- China calls for shelving disputes and seeking joint development on the South China Sea issue, and hopes all parties will do more to enhance mutual trust and promote cooperation for the formulation of a code of conduct in the South China Sea (COC), visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said here at the 19th ASEAN Regional Forum Foreign Ministers' Meeting Thursday.

Yang pointed out that China's sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters is supported by ample historical and legal evidence. Yet given the complexity of the South China Sea issue, China has always called for shelving disputes and seeking joint development.

China and ASEAN countries had candid discussions and reached broad consensus on the South China Sea issue 20 years ago and signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in Phnom Penh ten years ago. An important principle of the DOC is to let sovereign states directly concerned resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means through friendly consultations and negotiations, Yang noted.

Yang also said China is "open" to launching discussions on COC on the basis of full compliance with the DOC by all parties, adding it is "essential that all parties exercise self-restraint in keeping with the spirit of the DOC, and refrain from taking moves that will escalate and complicate the disputes and affect peace and stability."

"China hopes that all parties will do more to enhance mutual trust, promote cooperation, and create necessary conditions for the formulation of COC," Yang made the remark in response to the remarks by some countries at the meeting on the issue.

The foreign minister stressed that the South China Sea is an important shipping route for China as 60 percent of its external trade goes through it. Thus China attaches great importance to the freedom and safety of navigation in the South China Sea, and China will continue to work closely with the littoral countries to ensure smooth sea lanes in the South China Sea.

Yang Jiechi arrived in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, on Monday midnight for the week-long ASEAN ministerial level meetings, including the 45th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and the 19th ARF.

The 19th ARF kicked off here at the Peace Palace on Wednesday afternoon, with foreign Ministers and representatives from 27 countries and ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan attending the meeting.


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