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Thursday October 10, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Thursday October 10, 2013 MYT 8:20:00 AM
by sarban singh
Najib looking on as Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Li cut a cake at the summit in Bandar Seri Begawan. — Bernama
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: Malaysia has commended China for its commitment to resolve disputes and overlapping territorial claims in the resource-rich and strategic South China Sea through peaceful negotiations.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the pledge by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang at the ongoing 23rd Asean Summit here not to use force in resolving the matter was welcomed as Kuala Lumpur had always opposed the use of force or threats.
“With China’s commitment, the claimant states should now be committed to resolving matters peacefully through negotiations.
“We need to work on the Code of Conduct as well as the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea for an amicable solution,” he told Malaysian media at the end of day one of the summit here yesterday.
Earlier yesterday, the Chinese Prime Minister had told the summit that Asean should not let the question of the South China Sea affect overall China-Asean relations.
China is now Asean’s biggest trading partner with bilateral trade last year amounting to US$400bil (RM1.27 trillion), nearly six times that of 10 years ago.
In the first half of this year, bilateral trade topped US$210bil (RM670bil), an increase of 12% compared to the corresponding period last year.
Li said both China and Asean should work together to maintain peace and stability in the area and jointly foster a favourable and “more enabling environment” for peaceful settlement of disputes, and to look forward towards joint development of the area pending a settlement.
Asean members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as China and Taiwan, have laid claim to parts of the sea.
Some 100,000 cargo ships from various countries use the shipping routes through the area annually.
Several countries were at odds last year after an increasingly aggressive China resorted to using threat to lay its claim.
Najib said Malaysia was also open to China’s suggestion to jointly develop the area pending a final settlement.
“We are prepared to pursue this with China but what is more important now is that no one should use force or threat over the South China Sea,” he said.
Najib said the fact that Li had also proposed a treaty on good neighbourliness, friendship and cooperation between China and Asean at the summit was testament to China’s commitment to resolve disputes through talks.
“The Chinese Prime Minister has also proposed several other measures to strengthen ties with Asean,” he said.
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