South China Sea issue can be handled properly: Li
JAKARTA - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has expressed confidence that differences on the South China Sea issue can be handled properly as long as relevant parties maintain dialogue and consultation and strengthen maritime cooperation.
"These differences should not affect regional stability or overall China-ASEAN relations nor will they ever hamper freedom and safety of navigation in the South China Sea," Li wrote in Tuesday's edition of The Jakarta Post.
Since the start of the year, China and relevant countries have had effective communication and dialogue on the South China Sea issue and reached a lot of important common ground, Li noted.
"We have identified the 'dual track approach' in handling the South China Sea issue, outlining the ideas that specific disputes be addressed by countries directly concerned through negotiation and consultation and that peace and stability in the South China Sea be jointly upheld by China and ASEAN countries," he said.
"We are fully confident that as long as we stick to the right track, maintain the momentum of dialogue and consultation and strengthen practical maritime cooperation, we will be able to handle the South China Sea issue properly," he elaborated.
Li, who will be in Myanmar Wednesday to attend an annual meeting of East Asian leaders, has lauded the cooperation between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a positive force for regional cooperation and envisioned a bright future for the ties.
"China and ASEAN countries are neighbors sharing land and sea borders. We have a common land boundary of over 4,000 km. For hundreds of years, our cultural interactions and close bonds have represented a fine model of exchanges, mutual learning and common development of different ethnicities, religions and cultures in the history of East Asia," Li wrote.
"China is a staunch force for peace in East Asia and China supports ASEAN in playing a positive role in regional stability," he said.
Li will attend the 17th China-ASEAN summit, the 17th ASEAN Plus Three Summit (ASEAN plus China, Japan and South Korea), and the 9th East Asia Summit in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, from Wednesday to Friday. He will pay an official visit to Myanmar after the meetings.
The Chinese premier said he looks forward to seeing more solid steps and fruitful outcomes resulting from China-ASEAN cooperation.
"China was the first to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, the first to establish strategic partnership with ASEAN and the first to propose the signing of a treaty on good neighborliness, friendship and cooperation with ASEAN," Li wrote.