Outsider ‘discord’ bid panned
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.