China and ASEAN members issue call for maritime practical cooperation
Top diplomats from China and the 10 ASEAN countries agreed on June 14 that the South China Sea issue should be handled properly, reaffirming the need to “jointly ensure peace and stability” in the area.
The 11 countries also called for “maritime practical cooperation” and for early completion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
The China-ASEAN Special Foreign Ministers Meeting in Yuxi, Yunnan province, was the first of its kind in three years.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the region “should not become another place of turbulence” as the world has already witnessed considerable chaos.
Wang said the closed-door meeting, which was first proposed by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, was timely, significant and involved strategic communication.
He added that it had achieved its expected goals. China is committed to future meetings to build trust and dispel misunderstandings, he added.
On the sidelines of the convention, Wang embarked on a whirlwind series of meetings with his counterparts from ASEAN countries.
Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh told Wang on June 13 that his country is ready to tackle maritime differences properly based on the consensus of the party leaders of China and Vietnam.
Wang said, “Both sides (China and ASEAN) should tackle differences properly and jointly safeguard regional peace and stability. They should cherish the hard-won peaceful and stable situation in this region.”
Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who co-chaired the meeting with Wang on June 14, said it demonstrates that “ASEAN and China are even able to discuss difficult issues…frankly, constructively and openly”.
Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said the meeting shows that most ASEAN members will not be “hijacked” by the South China Sea issue and related problems.
China has played a proactive role in boosting integration and development within the ASEAN Community, and such a role has won support from the ASEAN members, Ruansaid.
Wei Ling, a professor of Asian studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said China has provided firm support to ASEAN continuously, with this year marking the 25th anniversary of the China-ASEAN dialogue.
“The strategic mutual trust and cooperation between China and ASEAN is a corner-stone of the region’s peace and development,” Wei said.