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China urges Australia to be impartial on South China Sea disputes

Updated: Feb 19,2016 7:27 AM     Xinhua

BEIJING — State Councilor Yang Jiechi urged Australia to be impartial on territorial disputes in the South China Sea in his meeting with visiting Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Feb 18.

Australia is not a directly involved country and should abide by its commitment to impartiality on sovereignty and territorial disputes in the South China Sea, Yang said, according to a press release from the Foreign Ministry.

He urged Australia not to participate in or take any action that may harm regional peace and stability or China-Australia relations.

Yang said islands in the South China Sea have been China’s territory since ancient times, and China has the right to maintain its territory, sovereignty and maritime interests.

China’s construction of the islands is mainly for civil use and aims to provide public goods to the international community. The limited self-defense facilities deployed on the islands are the result of China’s right to self-defense granted by international law, which has nothing to do with militarization. It is natural and fully legitimate, Yang said.

The state councilor also discussed the development of the China-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership with Bishop in the meeting, who is visiting from Feb 16 to Feb 18.