NANNING CITY, China—Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said that China is ready to work with neighboring countries to implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the disputed South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) given the proper dialogue.
“China is ready to work with Asean countries to implement the Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea [through enhanced dialogue],” he said in his speech on Tuesday, Sept. 16, at the opening ceremony of China-Asean Expo (Caexpo) Summit here.
Gaoli was the keynote speaker at the 11th Caexpo trade and business fair for Asean countries. The summit was strategically held in this city, as it is located along the South China Sea.
China has been aggressive in its claims to the resource-rich South China Sea, and has continued its presence and reclamation activities at some reefs and shoals in areas within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. China is also embroiled in territorial rows with neighboring countries.
“We are ready to join efforts with other countries in the world to pursue and uphold peace so that we will be able to live in amity and enjoy harmonious development,” Gaoli said.
He said the peace and stability of the South China Sea concerns the prosperity, development, and wellbeing of the people in the region.
But at the same time, he reiterated that China underscores territorial sovereignty. Its claims to almost the entire South China Sea are based on their historical records and ancient maps.
“China firmly upholds its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and state security,” he said.
“We have the commitment to peacefully resolving disputes with countries directly concerned through consultation and negotiation on the basis of respect of history and international law,” he added.
Also at the Caexpo event were Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Lao Vice President Bounnhang Vorachit, Myanmar Vice President U Nyan Tun, Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh. The Philippines was represented by Trade Undersecretary Nora Terrado.
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