BEIJING: Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said Wednesday that nations should enjoy freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and promised that there would "never be issues" in the tense waterway.
At a joint news conference with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Yang said China hoped to work with the United States and took note of calls by Southeast Asian nations to reach a code of conduct on the South China Sea.
"Freedom of navigation... in the South China Sea is assured," Yang said.
"For China and our neighbouring countries, the South China Sea is really a lifeline for exchanges, trade and commerce," he said. "There is no issue currently in this area, nor will there ever be issues in that area in the future."
Yang said that on his recent visit around the region, Southeast Asian nations encouraged "work towards the eventual adoption of a code of conduct in the South China Sea."
Yang was unclear about whether China agreed with Clinton's calls for progress, saying that the dispute should be "settled through direct negotiation and friendly consultation."
But he reiterated China's claims in the region, saying: "There is plentiful historical and jurisprudential evidence for that." - AFP
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