Foreign and Military Affairs

Hu reaffirms stance on South China Sea

Updated: 2011-08-31 20:55


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Hu reaffirms stance on South China Sea

President Hu Jintao (R) shakes hands with Philippine President Benigno Aquino during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, August 31, 2011. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING - Chinese President Hu Jintao and his Philippine counterpart Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday agreed to strengthen economic and trade cooperation while minimizing the impact of disputes in the South China Sea.

Putting South China Sea disputes aside

Before the disputes are resolved, the countries concerned may put aside the disputes and actively explore forms of common development in the relevant sea areas, Hu told Aquino during their one-hour talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

China's stance and proposition on the South China Sea issue has been consistent and explicit, Hu said after a red-carpet welcoming ceremony for Aquino, who is on his first state visit to China since taking office in June 2010.

"The South China Sea disputes should be resolved peacefully through consultation and negotiation between the two countries concerned," said Hu.

China is ready to work with the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including the Philippines, to actively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and jointly develop the waters into "a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation," Hu said.

In the declaration, inked by China and ASEAN members in 2002, all concerned parties pledged to maintain self-restraint and not conduct activities that might complicate or escalate disputes over the region.

In July of this year, China and the ASEAN adopted an agreement that established guidelines for implementing the declaration, marking an important step toward a peaceful solution to the disputes.

Aquino, in his turn, reiterated that the Philippines works on maintaining peace and stability in the region and implementing the declaration.

The South China Sea issue does not constitute all Philippines-China relations, Aquino said, adding that the issue should not affect the development of bilateral ties and friendly cooperation in various fields.

"There is a strong political willingness from both sides to minimize the impact of the disputes on overall relations, which is good news for the two states," said Qu Xing, president of the China Institute for International Studies.

Economic ties top agenda

"It's a set policy of the Chinese government to consistently consolidate and develop strategic and cooperative relations with the Philippines," Hu said after hailing bilateral ties and appreciating the Philippine government's adherence to the one-China policy.

Following their formal talks, the two heads of state witnessed the signing of nine cooperation agreements, including a five-year plan on bilateral economic and trade cooperation and agreements between tourism, sports and media agencies.

"The two states could tap into their potential and expand cooperation in sectors such as trade, infrastructure, agriculture, hydro-facilities, new energy, renewable energy and finance," Hu said.

China-Philippines trade amounted to $27.7 billion in 2010, making China the third largest trade partner of the Southeast Asian country.

The two sides have pledged to double their trade volume to $60 billion in five years. And among Aquino's 300-strong delegation, there are more than 200 businessmen looking for a chance in the Chinese market.

During a business forum in the morning and his talks with Hu in the afternoon, Aquino pledged to promote all-round communication and exchanges between the two peoples.

"We both should expand the friendly exchanges between the two peoples through various means and channels to establish a good atmosphere for the development of bilateral ties," said Hu.

Hu also called on the two states to enhance cooperation in defense, security and law-enforcement as well as on information flow, disaster-prevention and rescue, anti-terrorism, and jointly crack down on cross-border crime.

On regional cooperation, Hu said China will further its cooperation with the ASEAN in various sectors, including the economic, financial, communication and transportation, sustainable development, social development and humanitarian exchange sectors.

"Many sectors of the two economies are reciprocal, but the business circles, as well as the two peoples, can only realize a win-win solution given mutual understanding," said Zhang Xuegang, a researcher with the Beijing-based China Institute for Contemporary International Relations.








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