China aims to build trust in E.Asia

Updated: 2007-07-31 17:19

MANILA - Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi sought on Tuesday to allay lingering worries about China's growth as a power in East Asia, saying it was committed to building partnerships with neighbours and promoting stability.

Major challenges lay ahead for the region, though, including unbalanced economic growth, threats to peace and stability and the need to enhance competitiveness, he told foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as Japan and South Korea -- a group known as ASEAN+3, that meets annually.

"China is committed to building good-neighbourly relations and partnerships with its neighbours and strengthening cooperation in the region," he said in prepared remarks for delivery in Manila.

The countries in the region should "respect each other and seek common ground while shelving differences".

China has worked hard since the early 1990s to transform its ties with Southeast Asia, deepening economic links and trying to dispel deep-seated misgivings about the intentions of the neighbourhood's dominant power.

Southeast Asia is increasingly important to China as a trade partner and also as a transit area for most of the imported resources, including oil, that fuel China's growth.

Security cooperation has deepened, too, and once acrimonious disputes over borders, particularly oil- and gas-rich reef chains in the South China Sea, are now much less of a stumbling block -- in large part because the countries concerned, including China, have toned down their rhetoric.

Opportunities and challenges lay ahead, Yang said.

"Political mutual trust among countries in the region remains to be strengthened. Peace and stability in the region still face threats and challenges. Economic development in our region is unbalanced, and some countries still lag behind in economic and social development," he said.

"The overall competitiveness of East Asia needs to be enhanced, the non-traditional security issues need to be addressed, and the strength of the region as shown in its diversity should be translated into progress in harmonious co-existence and common development."

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