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South China Sea issue should be resolved through negotiations by parties directly concerned: Chinese FM


08:16, July 03, 2013

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, July 2 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi expounded on China's position at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Brunei on Tuesday, in response to the claim made by the Philippines earlier that that the Huangyan Island and the Ren'ai Reef are "occupied."

"While this meeting is not the proper venue to discuss specific cases in the South China Sea, I believe it is necessary that we get the facts clear, since the Philippines brought it up," Wang said.

The Philippines released an obviously prepared press release directed against China at the regional meeting of foreign ministers on Sunday in Brunei, after failing in an attempt to force the essentially bilateral disputes into a joint communique at the multilateral forum.

Wang Yi briefed his counterparts from more than 20 countries on the historical background of the South China Sea issue, emphasizing that China has solid historical and legal evidence supporting its position on the issue.

He said that this position has been upheld by successive Chinese governments and is widely supported by the Chinese people. China has an unwavering resolve to uphold its sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. At the same time, China is committed to resolving the disputes through consultation and negotiation with the countries concerned, as stipulated in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and is a commitment jointly made by China and ASEAN.

Wang Yi pointed out that the situation in the South China Sea is generally stable and there is no problem with the freedom of navigation at all. During the foreign ministers' meeting, Wang and his ASEAN colleagues had in-depth exchanges of views on the South China Sea issue and the parties increased mutual trust.

China is of the view that China-ASEAN relations are multi- faceted and cannot be defined by a single issue. China and ASEAN must not let a single issue overshadow the friendship and cooperation between the two sides.

"The South China Sea issue is not an issue between China and ASEAN. It is only an issue between China and a small number of Southeast Asian countries. China and ASEAN countries are fully and effectively implementing the DOC and have the full capacity to ensure peace and stability in the South China Sea," he said.

China and ASEAN agreed to hold the next round of Senior Officials' Meeting and Joint Working Group Meeting on the Implementation of the DOC in China in September to promote full and effective implementation of the DOC, hold consultation on how to advance a code of conduct (COC) within the framework of implementation of the DOC and gradually advance the COC process on the basis of consensus.

Wang cited facts and evidence to show that China has indisputable sovereignty over the Huangyan Island and the Ren'ai Reef, and stressed that it is fully justified for China to make necessary reaction to provocative activities.

Wang emphasized that bilateral disputes should be resolved through bilateral consultation.

"Should one choose to play up the issue on multilateral occasions, it will not help resolve the issue. Rather, it will harm the bilateral relations and this is not in the interests of that country and its people," he said.

Many of the foreign ministers fully recognized in their remarks the new progress China and ASEAN made in safeguarding stability in the South China Sea and pointed out that disputes in the South China Sea should be resolved through consultation and negotiation between the countries directly concerned. Parties should move forward the process of formulating COC within the framework of full and effective implementation of the DOC.

Some countries argued that outside forces and countries outside the region should not intervene in the disputes in the South China Sea and that the South China Sea issue should not be internationalized, otherwise it is not conducive to resolving the issue.

ASEAN countries expressed their willingness to work with China to jointly uphold peace and stability in the region.

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