World

China 'committed' to resolving disputes peacefully

China releases White Paper pledging stability in Asia-Pacific region

BEIJING: China yesterday urged its neighbours to maintain peace and development in the region, while warning against provocative action that infringes on its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights in the South China Sea, the Xinhua news agency reported.

In a White Paper released yesterday, Beijing said it may also "make the necessary response" to behaviour that undermines peace and stability in the disputed waters.

China claims most of the South China Sea where about US$5 trillion (S$7.2 trillion) in ship-borne trade passes through every year.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

But the White Paper reiterated that Beijing remains committed to resolving disputes peacefully through negotiation and consultation and upholding peace and stability as well as freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.

It also urged major countries in the region to reject the Cold War mentality and respect the legitimate interests of others, Xinhua reported.

"Small- and medium-sized countries need not and should not take sides among big countries," it said.

In a seeming reference to foreign interference, Beijing said while it supported international and regional rules set by all countries, rules of individual countries should not automatically become "international rules", according to Xinhua.

In view of its growing influence, Beijing said it will provide more public security services to Asia-Pacific and the world at large and increase military exchanges and cooperation.

"China has contributed to the generally stable relations among major countries in the region by maintaining positive interactions with the United States, Russia, India and improving ties with Japan," Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said.

China will work with the new US administration on Asia-Pacific affairs to preserve peace, stability and prosperity in the region, Mr Liu said.

Meanwhile, Taiwan scrambled jets and ships yesterday as a flotilla of Chinese warships led by China's single aircraft carrier sailed north through the Taiwan Strait.

The Soviet-built Liaoning aircraft carrier, returning from exercises in the South China Sea, did not intrude into Taiwan's territorial waters but entered its air defence identification zone, Taiwan's defence ministry said.

Taiwan scrambled jets and ships to "surveil and control" the passage of the Chinese ships through the narrow body of water separating Taiwan and China. "We have full grasp of its movements," Taiwan defence ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi said. - WIRE SERVICES

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