Foreign and Military Affairs

China "concerned" possible US-ASEAN statement on S China Sea

Updated: 2010-09-21 20:03
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BEIJING - China expressed concern Tuesday over a possible joint statement from the US and ASEAN concerning the South China Sea, adding that it opposes the internationalization of the maritime issue.

According to reports, US President Barack Obama will meet leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Friday and the two sides will issue a joint statement concerning the South China Sea.

"We firmly oppose any country having nothing to do with the South China Sea issue getting involved in the dispute," said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu at a regular news briefing, adding that China opposes the internationalization of the issue.

"This will only complicate rather than help solve the issue," said Jiang.

Jiang said China has always and always will guarantee freedom of navigation in the South China Sea in accordance with international law.

Jiang said the South China Sea issue is a sovereignty dispute about territory and maritime rights between the relevant countries, and not an issue between China and the ASEAN, nor a regional or international issue.

"The issue can only be resolved bilaterally through friendly negotiation in a peaceful manner," said Jiang, adding that there has already been smooth negotiation between China and the relevant countries.

"Any move to exaggerate regional tension, create opposition or disrupt country-to-country relations goes against the common aspirations of all countries in the region seeking peace, development and cooperation," said Jiang.

Jiang said that the overall situation in the South China Sea is stable and that China and the ASEAN member states have enjoyed sound and comprehensive development of bilateral ties in recent years.

Jiang reiterated that China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and the surrounding waters.

At the ASEAN Regional Forum Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Hanoi in July, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked about U.S. "national interests" in the South China Sea.