Saturday, August 03, 2013

ASEAN, China hold forum on relations, S. China Sea disputes

Thailand is hosting a high-level forum Friday on the 10th anniversary of the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership to review relations and cooperation over the past decade.

All aspects of the relationship, including economic, security and other cooperation, is to be discussed at the forum, which lists ministers, former ministers, ambassadors, academics and experts as discussants and presenters on relations between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China.

Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovijakchaikul, in opening remarks, hailed the "close relationship" between ASEAN and China and said he expected further cooperation in future.

On territorial disputes in the South China Sea among and between some ASEAN members and China, Surapong urged the parties to resolve their differences peacefully and work toward regional peace and stability.

"We should not let this issue be a barometer of ASEAN-China relations...we need to transform a sea of uncertainty and mistrust into a sea of shared interests and cooperation," he said.

Surapong added there is a "high possibility" of concrete progress in creating a regional Code of Conduct in the South China Sea during the East Asia Summit in Brunei in October, which will come after senior officials tackle the issue in September.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the forum China is committed to resolving South China Sea conflicts with ASEAN members to maintain regional peace and stability.

He said China is ready to work with ASEAN on the regional Code of Conduct and on implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

"We hope other countries concerned will show the same spirit and work with us in the same direction instead of taking any move that may complicate and or aggravate the situation, misjudging the situation and making mistakes repeatedly," he said. "We would like to work with all countries to make the South China Sea truly a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation."

Thailand, as coordinator for ASEAN-China relations, is to host an ASEAN ministerial meeting to determine the group's position on the South China Sea territorial disputes in mid-August ahead of a similar meeting with China attending.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam

ASEAN members with claims conflicting with those of China in the South China Sea are Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Taiwan also lays claim to some parts of the South China Sea. - Philippines News Agency

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