Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Monday that Beijing would not seek to dominate Southeast Asia or intimidate its smaller neighbors amid growing tensions with the Philippines over the disputed South China Sea.
Xis’ comments came during a virtual conference with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), marking the 30th anniversary of relations between the parties.
China resolutely opposes hegemonism and power politics, wishes to maintain friendly relations with its neighbors and jointly maintain lasting peace in the region and will absolutely not seek hegemony or even less intimidate the small, the Chinese leader said, according to state agency Xinhua. Press Agency.
Xi added that peace is the greatest common interest of all parties and that China will do everything possible to avoid conflict.
We must be builders and protectors of regional peace, insist on dialogue rather than confrontation, partnership and non-alignment, and unite our efforts to tackle various negative factors that threaten to undermine the peace, added Mr. Xi.
China and ASEAN have been negotiating for years to agree on a code of conduct for the South China Sea, but no progress has yet been made. We must practice true multilateralism and insist on dealing with international and regional issues through negotiation, Xi added.
His comments came days after the Chinese Coast Guard used water cannons to block two Filipino supply boats heading for Ayungin Shoal in the disputed South China Sea. Ayungin Shoal is part of the Kalayaan Island Group, which the Philippines claims is an integral part of its territory, as well as the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf.
On Monday, the Philippine military redeployed two supply boats to deliver food to the Filipino Marines keeping the disputed shoal..
The Philippines is just one nation with which Beijing is vying for control of the South China Sea. China claims about 90% of the potentially energy-rich region, but Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim parts of it, through which some $ 3 trillion (2.4 trillion) in trade passes. every year. The waterway is home to crucial sea routes, fish stocks, and submarine oil and gas fields.
China has turned seven shoals into island missile-protected bases to consolidate its claims, which has increased tensions on the waterway.
Earlier this year, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned China against any attack on the Philippines and said any action in the disputed area would prompt a response under a mutual defense treaty.
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