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Monday, November 23, 2015, 11:59

Li seeks to calm waters in the region

By An Baijie in Kuala Lumpur and Li Xiaokun in Beijing

KUALA LUMPUR - Premier Li Keqiang urged countries outside the region on Sunday to avoid taking action that may cause tension in the South China Sea.

These countries should respect and support the efforts by nations in the region to uphold peace and stability in this waterway, Li said.

Raising a five-point proposal on the South China Sea at the 10th East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur, he called for outside powers to "play a positive and constructive role and refrain from taking action that may cause tension in the region".

His remarks came after the United States sent military ships and warplanes close to Chinese islands in recent weeks to assert its "freedom of navigation" in the South China Sea.

Sunday's summit was also attended by US President Barack Obama.

Li said, "Freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea has never been a problem.

"Instability in the South China Sea will first hamper countries in the region, including China, and will do no good to other counties."

He asked all countries to exercise and uphold the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea in accordance with international law.

Shi Yinhong, director of the Center of US Studies at Renmin University of China, said, "As Washington has decided to regularly send military ships and planes near Chinese islands, confrontation between China and the US has reached a record high in the South China Sea."

Li seeks to calm waters in the region

He said the premier's remarks were "quite mild" but he had taken "a firm stance", which would help to earn the understanding of Association of Southeast Asian Nations member countries.

Song Junying, a researcher of Asia-Pacific studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said ASEAN countries do not want to lose the great potential for economic and political cooperation with China.

Li also called on all countries to observe the UN Charter, defend the outcome of World War II and the postwar order and jointly safeguard peace and stability in the world and the region, including the South China Sea. Countries directly concerned should undertake, in accordance with the principles of international law, to resolve sovereign and jurisdictional disputes peacefully, he said.

Li arrived in Malaysia on Friday for a series of ASEAN-related meetings.

Contact the writers through lixiaokun@chinadaily.com.cn

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