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China Hopes Countries Outside Asean Region Stay Neutral

By Niam Seet Wei

BEIJING, July 15 (Bernama) -- China on Tuesday hoped countries outside the Asean region will remain neutral and be able to distinguish between truth and falsity.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said this in a statement, responding to a call from the United States to freeze new construction in the South China Sea to de-escalate tensions recently.

It was reported that US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Strategy and Multilateral Affairs Michael Fuchs on July 11, urged China and claimant states not to build new outposts and voluntarily stop the action to ease tensions in the South China Sea.

He pointed out that China's provocative and unilateral behaviour had raised doubts about its willingness in respecting international law.

In the statement, the foreign ministry said China and 10 Asean members had signed the Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in 2002, and currently both sides were steadily promoting negotiation on the Code of Conduct.

"Unfortunately, certain countries have been illegally present through strengthening their construction and increasing the presence of weaponry," it said.

It said China resolutely opposed infringement action taken by certain countries which had trespassed on its sovereignty and maritime rights.

Ties between China and Vietnam have remained strained after the world's second largest economy deployed an oil rig in waters which were also claimed by Vietnam on May 1.

Relations between China and the Philippines soured after the seizure of 11 Chinese fishing boats by the Philippine authorities near the Spratly Islands, another disputed region in the South China Sea on May 7, this year.

-- BERNAMA




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