Chinese FM Wang aims above regional rows

Updated: 2013-08-05 07:49

By Zhou Wa (China Daily)

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The new leadership is taking positive action to ensure that ties between China and ASEAN countries are not hampered by territorial issues, analysts said on Sunday.

Chinese FM Wang aims above regional rows

Foreign Minister Wang Yi (center) and his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh Minh (right) meet in Hanoi on Sunday. AFP

Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived in Vietnam late on Saturday for the last leg of an official visit to countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, his third such visit since he took office in March.

"It shows that China is attaching more importance to ties with the Southeast Asian nations," said Jia Xiudong, a senior researcher on international affairs at the China Institute of International Studies.

Wang is demonstrating that China will not let territorial issues with several ASEAN members hinder overall relations and cooperation between China and ASEAN, Jia said.

China is trying to identify points of agreement on the interests of both China and Southeast Asian countries, he added.

"Wang's visit sends a signal that China is taking every effort to resolve the South China Sea issue, so that the issue will not harm the general peace and stability in the region," said Jin Canrong, a professor of international affairs with the Renmin University of China.

Before arriving in Vietnam, Wang also visited Malaysia, Thailand and Laos, reviewing the achievements in bilateral ties with each country and paving the way for deeper cooperation in the future.

At the opening ceremony of the High-Level Forum on the 10th Anniversary of China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership held in Bangkok on Friday, Wang called on ASEAN countries to join hands with China to further deepen and enrich their cooperation.

He told officials of ASEAN countries at the forum that relations with ASEAN have always topped China's diplomatic agenda and now is the key moment to make new progress in relations, following 10 years of strategic partnership.

Meeting with Surukiat Sathirathai, chairman of the Asia Peace Reconciliation Council and Thailand's former deputy prime minister, Wang proposed three ways to solve the South China Sea disputes, emphasizing the importance of joint exploitation of mineral resources.

"It takes time to find a final solution to the South China Sea disputes," said Wang. "Until then, the parties concerned should search for means of joint exploitation on a win-win and mutually beneficial basis," Wang said.

"Joint exploitation of mineral resources is not only for economic reasons. It will also send signals to other parts of the world that countries in the region are willing to solve their disputes in the way of cooperation," he added.

Jia from the CIIS echoed this view, saying, "Joint exploitation can bring economic benefits to all players and it also has larger political and security implications, since it helps to maintain peace and stability in the region."

The China National Offshore Oil Corp and the Philippine National Oil Co have already signed an agreement for joint marine seismic exploration in certain parts of the South China Sea, a move approved by the two nations' governments. Vietnam later joined the exploration agreement.

"China's proposal of joint mineral exploitation shows its sincerity to resolve territorial issues, and the countries concerned should also show their own sincerity," Jia said.

"It is important that China and Southeast Asian countries control the risk of tensions aroused by the territorial issues," he added.

Wang also said the agreement should be reached through consultation and bilateral negotiations between the concerned parties, while gradually pushing forward the consultations on the Code of Conduct of the South China Sea.

Wang's four-country visit to Southeast Asia is a continuation of China's efforts to strengthen ties with ASEAN members. In May, Wang visited Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Brunei, his first official visits since being appointed foreign minister.

In late June, Wang and his ASEAN counterparts held a series of meetings in Brunei, during which they stressed the importance of good ASEAN-China relations.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

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