China's defence minister urges not to play up South China Sea issues

Updated: 2015-11-04 21:38


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KUALA LUMPUR -- China's Defence Minister Chang Wanquan on Wednesday called on certain countries to stop playing up the issue of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea since there has never been a problem.

Speaking at the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting(ADMM) Plus, Chang said China supports the ADMM Plus mechanism to play a constructive role in pushing for the building of an open, tolerant, transparent and equal regional security cooperation structure.

Considering the fact that opportunities and challenges coexist in the Pacific region, China advocates an integrated, cooperative and sustainable security concept, and calls on all sides to embark on a path of security cooperation based on the principles of joint-building, sharing and win-win, Chang said.

He said China is willing to join hands with ASEAN to build a closer community, deepen pragmatic cooperation in defence, and to have active interaction with other countries in the region.

China maintains that countries should jointly handle disputes and control risks in order to create a suitable environment for common development and prosperity in the region, the Chinese defense minister said.

Chang expressed strong opposition to recent US actions of sending a navy vessel near related islands and reefs of China's Nansha Islands in the South China Sea, urging the United States to respect China's sovereignty and security concerns and to make more efforts in building mutual trust as well as maintaining peace and security in the region.

Regarding the so-called issue of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea played up by some individual countries at the meeting, Chang said, firstly, the issue itself is a false proposition.

Over 100,000 vessels pass through the South China Sea each year, and none has claimed to have encountered any hindrance, trouble or danger because of that, which points to the fact that freedom of navigation is never threatened in the South China Sea and therefore not a problem, Chang Said.

Consequently, the issue should not be hyped up or even become an excuse for provocation, he said.

Chang further noted that China has been committed to building a China-ASEAN community of common destiny with all ASEAN countries, and as the South China Sea is an important water way for Asia-Pacific countries' international trade and energy transport, China would never do anything that may affect freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, but rather has provided such public security products and services as navigation guidance and assistance.

China has always respected and defended all countries' freedom of navigation and fly-over in the South China Sea and other places in the world according to the international law, Chang said.

Peace, development, cooperation and win-win have become the trend of the times, Chang said, calling on all related parties to follow the trend and play a constructive role in maintaining regional peace, stability, development and prosperity.

Founded in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The ADMM-Plus brings together defence ministers from the 10 ASEAN countries and its eight dialogue partners, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, and the United States.