- Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan welcomes China’s interest in broadening and deepening engagement with Southeast Asian nations
- Qin Gang will visit Indonesia, the current Asean chair country, this week
Qin made the comments on Monday while hosting his Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan in Beijing.
According to China’s foreign ministry, Qin told Balakrishnan that China firmly supported Asean’s leading role in the region, which he said had steered East Asian cooperation in the right direction.
“China is willing to deepen cooperation with Asean and create more opportunities to work together to promote peace, tranquillity, prosperity, beauty and friendship,” he was quoted as saying.
“China is also willing to work with Asean countries to fully and effectively implement the [Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea] and jointly maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.”
The non-binding declaration, signed in 2002 by China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member nations, aims to reduce the risk of conflict in regional waters, with the eventual goal of implementing a binding code of conduct.
The binding code is intended to manage tensions in the South China Sea, a resource-rich and strategically important waterway that is subject to overlapping claims from China and several Asean members, such as the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has ignored an international court ruling that its claims have no legal basis.
In recent weeks, joint military drills by the Philippines and the United States following a Chinese coastguard’s use of a laser against a Philippine vessel aggravated tensions in the regional waters. The Philippines also signed a proposed agreement with Japan this month to cooperate on disaster relief, a measure widely seen as a step towards a defence pact.
Balakrishnan welcomed China’s continued interest in broadening and deepening its engagement with Asean, Singapore’s foreign ministry said.