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Wednesday, March 11, 2015, 17:55

Sea: China slams ASEAN chief's comments

By Reuters

 Sea: China slams ASEAN chief's comments
Vietnamese politician Le Luong Minh, Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), delivers a speech during the 20th International Conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo on May 23, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI)

BEIJING - China objected on Wednesday to comments made by the Vietnamese head of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the disputed South China Sea.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that China had always supported ASEAN's economic integration, but that ASEAN was not a party to the South China Sea dispute.

Le Luong Minh, ASEAN secretary-general and a veteran Vietnamese diplomat, told the Manila Times last week that the grouping rejects "China's policy of using the dotted line to assert its sovereignty over myriad islets and reefs in the sea".

ASEAN's economic integration could also be affected by "any hostility or conflict" that could break out, he added.

"Mr Le Luong Minh is the ASEAN secretary-general, and on the South China Sea issue has many times made partisan statements that do not accord with the facts nor suit his position," Hong told a daily news briefing.

"This is a serious deviation from the neutral position ASEAN and its secretary-general ought to have on the relevant issue, and damages the image of ASEAN as a regional international organisation," he added.

The secretary-general should ensure ASEAN stands by its promises of neutrality and not "use public office for private gain", Hong said.

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