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China, ASEAN members reach consensus on peace

(China Daily)

08:08, May 06, 2013

Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) shakes hands with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during a meeting at the Istana presidential palace in Singapore on Friday. Wang was on a two-day visit in Singapore, his first official visit as foreign minister. MOHD FYROL / Agence France-Presse

China and ASEAN members reach consensus on maintaining peace

China attaches great importance to its ties with neighboring countries and places ASEAN at a prioritized position in its relations with surrounding neighbors, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sunday before wrapping up a five-day visit.

China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have reached a consensus that the two sides are fully capable of maintaining peace and stability in the region, including in the South China Sea, Wang said in a joint interview with Chinese media outlets.

During the trip that started on Tuesday, Wang stressed Beijing's pledge to build up respective bilateral ties and determination to ensure regional stability in his four stops, which included Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei.

Wang's visit not only reaffirmed the consistent policy of the Chinese government in its ties with ASEAN as well as the South China Sea issue, but also revealed the fruitful consensus reached during the trip for pragmatic cooperation, and enhanced China's image as a constructive player in the region, observers said.

Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said Wang's first trip to the four Southeast Asian countries displayed the new Chinese leadership's diplomatic priority on ties with neighbors. The trip followed President Xi Jinping's first trip in March to Russia and emerging economies in Africa.

"The visit demonstrates that China's ties with Southeast Asian countries are stable and have a sound basis and the ties with ASEAN members are not as fragile as hyped by some media reports," Ruan said.

During his stopover in Brunei on Saturday, Wang and his counterpart agreed to intensify exchanges, increase mutual trust and advance cooperation, thereby contributing to the prosperity and development of the region.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the strategic partnership between China and ASEAN. The trip was made amid ups and downs of maritime disputes regarding China and some ASEAN members.

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