Xi Jinping says China wants South China Sea issue resolved peacefully

Other News Materials 7 November 2015 08:42 (UTC +04:00)

China wants to resolve the South China Sea dispute peacefully but the government has a responsibility to protect the country's sovereignty and maritime rights, president Xi Jinping has said, The Guardian reported.

China has overlapping claims with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei in the South China Sea, through which $5tn in ship-borne trade passes every year.

Its land reclamation work in the sea has raised concern in the region about its intentions, and last week, a US warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of one of Beijing's manmade islands in the contested Spratly archipelago.

Speaking at the National University of Singapore, Xi said freedom of passage in the South China Sea would never be a problem, but the islands there had always been Chinese.

"To maintain the sovereignty and proper, reasonable maritime rights is a responsibility the Chinese government must take on," Xi said.

"Right of passage or flight has never been a problem and will never be a problem, because China needs the freedom of passage in the South China Sea the most.

"Though some islets over which China has sovereignty have been occupied by others, China has always committed to solve the problem by peaceful negotiations.

"China is committed to working with countries with a direct stake in the issue to solve the dispute on the basis of respect of historical facts, according to international laws and through discussions and negotiations."

China had the confidence and ability to maintain the peace and stability of the South China Sea area, Xi said.

In what appeared to be a comment directed at the US, he added that China welcomed "countries from outside the region" to have a "positive influence" on peace and development in Asia.