Premier vows to lift maritime cooperation
Updated: 2013-10-12 00:27
By wang qian in Beijing and LI XIAOKUN in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei (China Daily)
Premier Li Keqiang vowed on Thursday to strengthen maritime cooperation with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, while calling on countries in the region to resolve territorial and maritime disputes through friendly consultation.
In an address to a regional summit in Brunei on Thursday, Li said China will initiate a number of maritime cooperation projects with ASEAN countries.
The projects will be sponsored by the China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund with 3 billion yuan ($484 million) allocated by China.
The fund aims to promote cooperation in fields such as marine research and environmental protection, offshore search and rescue, and navigation safety between China and ASEAN countries.
Li called on nations in the region to work together to "build a maritime silk road for the 21st century" in a written interview to the media in ASEAN countries prior to his visit.
"Territorial and maritime disputes between countries in this region should be resolved by the countries concerned through friendly consultation," Li said.
Tensions have risen in recent years due to repeated claims by certain countries over the ownership of various islands in the South China Sea.
Qiao Fangli, deputy director of the State Oceanic Administration's First Institute of Oceanography, said Li's speech represents the start of a new chapter in maritime cooperation between China and ASEAN countries.
He said the institute will launch the project of marine environmental forecasts and its disaster warning system next year with several ASEAN countries interested in taking part.
"Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Cambodia have already decided to join the program," Qiao said.
He said deepening cooperation will help China and ASEAN countries further understand each other and help nations make progress in marine research and technology.
China has cooperated with more than 20 countries in various maritime fields. In June last year the central government launched the framework plan (2011-15) for international cooperation on the South China Sea and its adjacent oceans.
Next year, China will continue to host the East Asia Business Forum and the ASEAN Plus Three High-level Symposium on Food Security, Li said in his speech.
Besides cooperation projects with the ASEAN countries, the premier also said China will consider setting up an East Asia maritime cooperation platform and an East Asia modern agriculture training base.
Li said countries should work constructively as partners to jointly manage and control tensions and differences, uphold peace and stability in East Asia and fully seize the historical opportunity for East Asia's development.
Donation to rice fund
Li added on Thursday that China will donate $1 million to the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve Fund before the end of the year.
The reserve is a regional assistance system to provide the necessary quantities of rice to populations while minimizing volatility in prices, especially in times of natural disaster or man-made calamity.
The volume of the rice reserve has reached 787,000 metric tons so far. Other joint food reserves are being considered, but will only be implemented once certain conditions have been fulfilled.
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