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Wang Yi: China and ASEAN Jointly Safeguard Peace and Stability in the South China Sea

On July 25, 2016 local time, after attending the China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting, Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a briefing for Chinese and foreign media in Vientiane, Laos.

Wang Yi expressed that the China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting, which lasted for one and a half hours, was held in a harmonious and friendly atmosphere. About 80 percent of the meeting time was devoted to development and cooperation. Of course, some countries put forward the South China Sea situation and related issues. Foreign ministers, in the spirit of mutual respect and mutual trust, have exchanged views on these issues from a positive perspective.

We all believe that disputes over some islands and reefs of Nansha Islands are not an issue between China and the ASEAN. We should neither use them to define China-ASEAN relations nor let these specific issues affect the development of overall China-ASEAN relations in the meantime. The ASEAN, as a whole, takes no position on the arbitration case unilaterally initiated by the former Philippine government, makes no comments on the ruling and takes no sides. It believes that this is a bilateral issue between China and the Philippines and supports China and the Philippines to seek solutions through bilateral dialogues and consultations. Wang Yi said that the ruling made by the temporary arbitral tribunal is fundamentally flawed and completely lacks legal basis. As this page has been turned over now, the fever of unnecessary sensation caused by it should be cooled down and things need to be set right in the South China Sea issue.

In order to pull the South China Sea issue back on the right track, China proposed that Foreign Ministers of China and ASEAN countries should issue the joint statement on the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), which got unanimous support from ten ASEAN members. China always believes that the DOC is a regional rule commonly agreed upon and upheld by China and ASEAN members as well as a guideline for safeguarding peace and stability in the South China Sea area. Denying the binding force of the DOC simply by a piece of ruling is an act of defaming the will and credibility of all DOC signatories, which is unacceptable. The core contents of the joint statement issued today are that the disputes should be peacefully settled by parties directly concerned through dialogues and consultations and that the stability in the South China Sea should be jointly safeguarded by China and ASEAN members. This is precisely the “dual-track approach” proposed by the ASEAN and advocated by China. China believes that the “dual-track approach” is an effective and correct way to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea and resolve the South China Sea disputes. The joint statement has sent a clear signal that China and the ASEAN will jointly safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea. It also shows that China and the ASEAN have the capability and wisdom to make the South China Sea a sea of peace and cooperation.

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