World / Asia-Pacific

China delegates stress peace at ASEAN meeting

By Qin Zhongwei (China Daily) Updated: 2012-07-11 08:23

China does not want the efforts and progress of maintaining peace and safety in the South China Sea to be disturbed, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Beijing on Tuesday, amid the ongoing 19th ASEAN Regional Forum and related meetings during which the issue was put on the table.

"China has always supported the building of the ASEAN community ... We hope the foreign ministers' meeting at the ASEAN Regional Forum can produce positive outcomes," Liu said at a daily news briefing.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who is in Cambodia to attend the meeting, met Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday.

Yang thanked Cambodia for its support for China on issues related to China's core interests and said safeguarding peace and promoting development are the top concerns of all countries in the region.

Senior officials from 18 members of the East Asia Summit gathered at the Peace Palace on Tuesday to discuss cooperation mechanisms and exchange views on various issues, according to a press release from Cambodia's Foreign Ministry.

It was attended by senior officials from the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - and its eight dialogue partners, including China, the United States and India.

Senior officials from China and Southeast Asian countries met in Phnom Penh earlier on Sunday. At the meeting, attended by Deputy Foreign Minister Fu Ying, the participants from China and the ASEAN nations underlined their commitment to the continued implementation of a declaration over the South China Sea reached in 2002.

They agreed to carry out "the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea" in a comprehensive and effective manner with the purpose of upholding peace and stability.

The Chinese and ASEAN officials also held informal discussions on how to jointly formulate a code of conduct in the South China Sea.

China is willing to discuss the code of conduct with the ASEAN countries when conditions mature. "But I want to stress that it is not aimed at resolving disputes, but aimed at building mutual trust and deepening cooperation," Liu said earlier.

Luo Yongkun, an expert on Southeast Asian studies at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, said discussing the South China Sea issue at the ASEAN meetings is not appropriate.

"It is an issue between China and some ASEAN countries rather than between China and ASEAN. It will only make the issue even more complicated if more unaffected countries get involved," he said on Tuesday.

"In fact, there are many more important topics than the South China Sea dispute for ASEAN. To build an ASEAN community by 2015 is the prime task for all ASEAN members," he said.

"In other words, development should be on top of the agenda at the moment."

Xinhua contributed to this story.

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