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U.S. should stop inciting trouble in South China Sea: People’s Daily

(People's Daily Online)    17:03, August 09, 2017

The China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Manila, The Philippines, concluded with consensus reached on several issues. Participants at the meeting agreed that promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the South China Sea will benefit all parties.

Participants welcomed the adoption of the framework for the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea and the successful testing of the MFA-to-MFA (Ministry of foreign affairs-to-ministry of foreign affairs) hotline for managing maritime emergencies.

The progress achieved so far has not only laid a sound foundation for concrete discussions about COC in future, but also proved that China and ASEAN countries have the wisdom and capability to manage divergence and work out rules for safeguarding peace and stability in the South China Sea.

The adoption of the framework indicated that the two sides are willing to join hands to safeguard stability in the South China Sea, forge ahead with future negotiations concerning COC and promote maritime and East Asian cooperation so as to inject positive energy into regional integration and economic globalization, the Manila Bulletin pointed out.

In sharp contrast to the above positive signals is some non-regional countries’ insistence on stirring up trouble in the South China Sea.

On August 6, the U.S., Japan and Australia made a joint statement that turned a blind eye to the current scenario in the South China Sea and refused to accept the positive outcomes at the China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting. The statement sent out a very negative signal.

It is not hard to realize that some Western countries feel disappointed because their agenda to interfere in the South China Sea issue was not achieved. They take pleasure in making trouble for other countries and regard the South China Sea as an arena to compete for influence.

In recent years, these countries have repeatedly provoked dissension among regional nations by sanctimoniously hyping up regional hot issues and sabotaging the regional political balance. The international community has seen through the conduct of self-exposure and is capable of identifying those causing trouble and chaos.

Peace is the premise for development and cooperation will produce win-win outcomes. More and more countries are beginning to realize that deepening cooperation with China to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea is crucial to the development of regional economy and security.

ASEAN foreign ministers agreed on August 6 that continued economic growth in China will benefit their nations. Some observers have pointed out that compared with the past, this year’s meeting involved less irrelevant issues and concentrated on gathering momentum for cooperation.

China’s determination to resolve the South China Sea issue with utmost sincerity has been widely appreciated. China always advocates a "dual-track," namely, peacefully and properly handling the disputes left from history through direct talks between the parties involved and jointly maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea with ASEAN members.

This approach is not only an effort to pursue the “greatest common divisor” for the interests of all parties, but also the fundamental guarantee to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.

“If there is a single characteristic that makes our community truly unique and admirable, it’s the existence of the peaceful settlement of the regional disputes and on regional co-operation as the best if not the surest means of achieving peace amity and friendship among the peoples of South East Asia,” Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary, Alan Peter Cayetano, pointed out.

China highly values friendly cooperation with ASEAN and takes it as priority in its diplomacy with neighboring countries and a key area for promoting Belt and Road construction.

Over the years, China-ASEAN relations have become most vigorous and dynamic with dialogue partners and fruitful results spanning across a wide array of areas.

China has become ASEAN's largest trading partner for 8 straight years, while ASEAN nations are China's third largest trading partner. In 2016, China-ASEAN trade soared to $ 452.2 billion and two-way aggregate investments reached $177.9 billion. Last year, over 38 million visits were made between China and ASEAN countries. The two sides also finished negotiations on upgrading the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA and set the two-way trade volume target at $ 1 trillion by 2020.

A future full of cooperation is worth expecting. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of ASEAN, while next year will be the 15th anniversary of China-ASEAN strategic partnership; with the two sides ready to face more opportunities to move relations onto a higher plane.

Meanwhile, their common goal of a more closely-knit community of shared future will serve as an important opportunity for countries in the region to join hands to achieve common prosperity and serve the well-being of their people.

This article is edited and translated from a commentary in People's Daily entitled 合作的未来才值得憧憬(钟声). 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Wu Chengliang)

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