SINGAPORE: There will never be a problem with freedom of maritime navigation or overland flights in the South China Sea, pledged Chinese president Xi Jinping.
Delivering a Singapore lecture as part of his official state visit to the republic, Xi said that the “starting point and ultimate purpose” of China’s policy in the South China Sea is the maintenance of peace and stability, adding that a stable environment for development is the “common interest of all Asian countries”.
“There has been no problem with maritime navigation or overland flights, nor will there ever be in the future.”
China is involved in long-standing disputes with several countries, including four Asean member states, over territory in the South China Sea.
Xi repeated China’s position that islands in the South China Sea have been Chinese territory since ancient times and that the Chinese government must uphold its sovereign rights and maritime interests.
But he emphasised that China seeks to resolve its issues with countries occupying some of the islands through peaceful dialogue.
He said that the most important task facing all Asian countries at present is to ensure robust and sustained development, which requires a peaceful and stable environment.
In the hour-long speech at the National University of Singapore’s Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, Xi spoke on China and Singapore’s 25 years of bilateral ties, China’s regional and international initiatives, and the Asian giant’s own domestic policy priorities, which include addressing rural and urban poverty, cementing the middle class and finding an environmentally-sustainable developmental path.
He said that he had been thinking about how China’s co-operation with its neighbours can be deepened to boost their common goal of development, and suggested four guiding ideas:
First, he said that Asian countries should work together to uphold peace and that “we should never let animosity divide us”.
Second, he said that Asian countries should jointly prioritise development that improves the lives of their people, and engage in mutual assistance to this end.
Third, he urged co-operation in addressing security threats and “non-traditional” challenges like environmental protection.
Finally, he said that Asian countries should work to deepen their common Asian identity, and to draw on long-standing people-to-people ties, and a history of shared culture, to ensure long-term harmony. — The Straits Times/ Asia News Network
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