Out­sider ‘dis­cord’ bid panned

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By HU YONGQI in Vi­en­tiane and AN BAI­JIE in Bei­jing Zhang Yunbi con­trib­uted to this story. Con­tact the writ­ers at an­bai­jie@chi­nadaily.com.cn and huy­ongqi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China strongly opposes that some re­gional out­siders were “sow­ing dis­cord” over the South China Sea is­sue dur­ing the 11th East Asia Sum­mit, a se­nior Chi­nese diplo­mat said on Thurs­day in Laos.

Vice-For­eign Min­is­ter Liu Zhen­min told re­porters that, dur­ing the sum­mit, all of the ASEAN coun­tries sup­ported the pos­i­tive progress made by China and ASEAN on the South China Sea is­sue.

“Most of the coun­tries, 16 of the to­tal 18 nations, have men­tioned the mar­itime safety is­sue in a pos­i­tive man­ner,” Liu said, adding that China’s stance of solv­ing dis­putes through dia­logue and ne­go­ti­a­tion has been sup­ported.

How­ever, Liu said only two ex­trater­ri­to­rial coun­tries out of the sum­mit’s 18 coun­tries men­tioned the ar­bi­tral rul­ing of the South China Sea at the sum­mit, which Liu de­scribed as an act of “self-iso­la­tion”.

The sum­mit was at­tended by 18 coun­tries: the 10 ASEAN mem­ber states, six dia­logue part­ners — China, Ja­pan, South Korea, In­dia, Aus­tralia and New Zealand — and the United States and Rus­sia as new­com­ers.

Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang dis­cussed key re­gional is­sues with other lead­ers.

In his open­ing re­marks, US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama said the re­cent ar­bi­tra­tion rul­ing on the South China Sea was “bind­ing” and “helped to clar­ify mar­itime rights in the re­gion”. Obama said he re­al­ized the rul­ing raised tensions.

The Ar­bi­tral Tri­bunal of The Hague ruled in July on the South China Sea dis­pute in a case against China that was uni­lat­er­ally ini­ti­ated by the Philip­pines un­der for­mer pres­i­dent Benigno Aquino III.

China has re­it­er­ated that the rul­ing was il­le­gal and said it will not ac­cept any propo­si­tion or ac­tion based on the de­ci­sion.

Manila, un­der new lead­er­ship that took of­fice in July, sup­ports direct talks with China to solve the dis­pute.

For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Hua Chun­y­ing said on Thurs­day that China opposes any at­tempt by forces out­side the re­gion to stir up trou­ble on the South China Sea is­sue.

China and Laos signed 20 agree­ment son Thurs­day to pro­mote rail­way, hydro power and in­fras­truc­ture projects as Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang con­cluded his four-day trip to the South­east Asian neigh­bor.

Un­der the agree­ments, Chi­nese banks will grant loans to the Lao­tian gov­ern­ment to start con­struc­tion of the China-Laos Rail­way. A ground­break­ing cer­e­mony for the project was held last year.

The two coun­tries will work on a de­vel­op­ment plan for ar­eas along the line that stretches 418km­from Kun­ming, cap­i­tal of South­west China’s Yunnan prov­ince, to Laos’ cap­i­tal Vi­en­tiane.

Li also said in an ar­ti­cle pub­lished in the Lao­tian news­pa­per KPL News that China is will­ing to start con­struc­tion of the land­mark China-Laos Rail­way, which will prob­a­bly be­gin by the end of this year.

Li Ji­acheng, a re­searcher of eco­nomic tran­si­tion at Liaon­ing Univer­sity, said the China-Laos Rail­way will help Laos trans­form from a “land­locked” to “land-linked” coun­try.

Some of the agree­ments were to pro­mote cul­tural ex­changes, im­prove Lao­tian in­fras­truc­ture such as earth­quake re­search fa­cil­i­ties, and fa­cil­i­tate cus­toms clear­ance process be­tween the two coun­tries.

Pre­mier Li ar­rived on Tues­day in Laos, which chairs the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Nations this year and hosts all ASEAN and East Asia sum­mits. The pre­mier be­gan his of­fi­cial visit to Laos on Thurs­day af­ter par­tic­i­pat­ing in ASEAN-re­lated meet­ings.

Pre­mier Li was warmly wel­comed by his Lao­tian coun­ter­part Thon­gloun Sisoulith at the Prime Min­is­ter’s House in down­town Vi­en­tiane. Lao­tian sol­diers lined up to sa­lute to the pre­mier while the Chi­nese na­tional an­them was per­formed.

Thon­gloun said Li’s of­fi­cial visit show­cased the tra­di­tional friend­ship be­tween the two coun­tries in sup­port and en­cour­age­ment for Laos as ASEAN chair­ing coun­try this year.

This year marks the 55th an­niver­sary of the es­tab­lish­ment of diplo­matic ties be­tween the two neigh­bors. China is Laos’ sec­ond­largest trad­ing part­ner and the big­gest source of for­eign in­vest­ment — to­tal in­vest­ment stood at $5.84 bil­lion by the end of last year.

China is will­ing to pro­mote co­op­er­a­tion in pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity and in­vest­ment, and ma­jor projects such as the rail­way and hy­dropower projects, Li said when meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Bounnhang Vo­ra­chitch on Thurs­day.

Bounnhang said China and Laos main­tain close ex­changes at all lev­els and have made smooth progress co­op­er­at­ing in fields such as na­tional de­fense and peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes.

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