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Vice-FM says US must be 'objective'

By Zhao Shengnan  (China Daily)

10:01, December 29, 2012

China respects the legitimate interests of the United States in the region and welcomes its constructive role, but the US also needs to respect China's interests and concerns, said Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun. (China Daily/Feng Yongbin)

A senior diplomat on Friday urged the United States to take "an objective and impartial position" in Asia-Pacific affairs amid the increased engagement between Beijing and Washington in the region.

Addressing the Lanting Forum in Beijing, Zhang Zhijun, vice-foreign minister, said China and the US need to work to ensure that dialogue and cooperation outweigh frictions and differences in Asia-Pacific.

Zhang made the remarks against the backdrop of the US' Asia "pivot" policy.

While the US said it remains neutral on the territorial disputes in the region, it has become increasingly involved in disputes between China and some of its Asian neighbors.

For instance, Washington has said that China's Diaoyu Islands fall under the US-Japan security treaty.

According to Zhang, China respects the legitimate interests of the US in the region and welcomes its constructive role, but the US also needs to respect China's interests and concerns in the region.

The two sides need to increase candid discussions on issues concerning the region and their respective Asia-Pacific policies so as to boost mutual understanding, expand common ground, steadily promote cooperation and appropriately approach and manage differences, Zhang said.

"As far as the differences and frictions between countries in the region are concerned, we hope the US will take an objective and impartial position instead of siding with one party or doing things that are of disservice to settling the issue," he said.

The Asia-Pacific region should not be an arena for China-US competition. Instead, it should be a grand stage for China-US cooperation, Zhang said.

China-US ties aren't stable enough because sensitive issues keep surfacing, said Wu Xinbo, a scholar on China-US studies and associate dean of the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University.

China and the US should have more dialogue on profound topics, including whether the world should have one epicenter or several, whether the world should follow only one development model or several models, and whether all countries should strive to maximize their own interests or work to balance the interests of all stakeholders, Wu said.

Wu proposed that the two countries enhance economic and global cooperation and reduce differences on ideology.

At the Lanting Forum, Zhang also urged the new Japanese government to overcome difficulties in its relations with China and to "face up to history and reality" and strive to get bilateral ties back to normal.

China-Japan relations hit their lowest point in years in September after Tokyo's illegal "purchase" of China's Diaoyu Islands.

New Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took over on Wednesday. The Cabinet he has unveiled, which includes ultra-conservative politicians, has raised concern in China and South Korea.

Zhang said China is "highly concerned" about "certain political movements" inside Japan and hopes Japan can follow a peaceful path.

According to Zhang, since there are prolonged disputes over issues of territorial sovereignty and maritime rights in Asia, those involved should refrain from taking action that may expand or complicate the disputes.

Instead, China will act to ensure that its development brings more benefits to neighboring countries and contributes even more to common development and cooperation in Asia, Zhang said.

Liu Jianfei, deputy-director of the international strategy studies institute under the Party School of Central Committee of Communist Party of China, said that China wants the rest of the world to benefit from its development, but not at the cost of sacrificing its own interests.

"Other countries should not misinterpret China's friendly wishes or infringe the country's interests," Liu said.

It is also unfair to shield the real troublemakers and to criticize China for upholding its legitimate interests, said Liu, calling on all Asian countries to take the responsibility for the continent's stability and prosperity.

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