South China Sea issue can be resolved 'properly'

Updated: 2012-04-01 07:34

By Qin Jize in Boao (China Daily)

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Vice-Premier Li Keqiang on Saturday reaffirmed China's commitment to properly resolve the South China Sea issue with Vietnam, as he urged healthy and steady growth of bilateral ties.

"The two countries should proceed from the overall and long-term interests and take effective measures to properly handle the South China Sea issue," he said.

Li made the remarks while meeting with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai on the sideline of the Boao Forum for Asia, an annual regional conference in South China's Hainan province.

He said China is willing to work with the Vietnamese side to enhance high-level exchanges, promote substantive cooperation and cement new ties.

Noting both countries are at critical moment for development, the vice-premier urged the two neighbors to deepen pragmatic cooperation and achieve mutual economic benefits.

"China encourages and supports capable enterprises with good reputation to invest in Vietnam," said Li, hoping the Vietnamese side can facilitate the move with favorable policies.

Hai said he agreed with Li on his views of the development of bilateral relations.

He added that he believes China's further growth will make greater contributions to the world peace and development.

As neighbors linked by mountains and rivers, the China-Vietnam traditional friendship forged by generations of leaders from both sides has deepened in recent years, especially after the two countries established a comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation in 2008.

According to local media, China ranked fifth in terms of foreign direct investment with 65 new projects and $587 million last year.

Pan Jin'e, a Vietnam studies expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, anticipates more investment activities given that China has been Vietnam's biggest trading partner several years ago.

Both sides have to strengthen high-level coordination to remove any obstacles that hinder boosting the investment and other economic cooperation, including the South China Sea issue, she added.

She pointed out a joint statement, signed last October, in which the two countries pledged to ensure peace and stability in the South China Sea and not let the issue disturb bilateral ties. That is an important guideline for the two countries to look for proper cooperation projects in the region, instead of provoking the chronic problem, Pan said.

Li on Saturday also met with the members of the board of directors of the Boao Forum for Asia, and expressed hope that this year's forum will generate more targeted opinions and solutions to the urgent issues that Asia and emerging economies are facing now.

The members include Yasuo Fukuda, Japan's former prime minister, and former US treasury secretary Henry Paulson.

Li is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the forum on Monday. With the theme of "Asia in the changing world - heading for healthy and sustainable development", the conference has attracted leaders from six countries.

Zhao Shengnan in Beijing contributed to this story.