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Friday, September 18, 2015, 15:36

Sea: China 'extremely concerned' over US comments

By Agencies

BEIJING - China is "extremely concerned" about comments from a US commander who said the United States should patrol close to small islands under China's control in the South China Sea, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

The commander of US forces in the Pacific said on Thursday the United States should challenge China's claim to territory in the waters, much of which are disputed between China and Southeast Asian countries, by patrolling close to artificial islands built by China.

Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular briefing that China demanded the United States respect China's sovereignty and refrain from provocative actions.

Hong's statement came as Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin has called for maritime cooperation between China and ASEAN countries to stabilize the region.

On the sidelines of the 12th China-ASEAN Expo, which opened on Friday in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Liu said that despite obvious benefits, China and ASEAN countries have lacked proper maritime cooperation.

"Some ASEAN countries and China still have disputes, and our relations are being meddled in by countries outside the region," he said.

The disputes, which he said were between China and individual countries, not between China and ASEAN, should not disrupt maritime cooperation.

This year is the "Year of China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation."

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