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Friday, September 9, 2016, 09:46

Efforts to sow 'discord' denounced

By Hu Yongqi in Vientiane and An Baijie in Beijing

Most countries at Laos gathering had positive attitude toward maritime safety, Beijing says

China strongly opposes that some regional outsiders were "sowing discord" over the South China Sea issue during the 11th East Asia Summit, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Thursday in Laos.

Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told reporters that, during the summit, all of the ASEAN countries supported the positive progress made by China and ASEAN on the South China Sea issue.

"Most of the countries, 16 of the total 18 nations, have mentioned the maritime safety issue in a positive manner," Liu said, adding that China's stance of solving disputes through dialogue and negotiation has been widely recognized and supported.

However, Liu said only two extraterritorial countries out of the summit's 18 countries mentioned the arbitral ruling of the South China Sea at the summit, which Liu described as an act of "self-isolation".

The diplomat made the remarks after the two-and-a-half-hour East Asia Summit, which was held in Vientiane.

The summit was attended by 18 countries: the 10 ASEAN member states, six dialogue partners - China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand - and the United States and Russia as newcomers.

Premier Li Keqiang attended the summit and discussed key regional issues with other leaders.

In his opening remarks, US President Barack Obama said the recent arbitration ruling on the South China Sea was "binding" and "helped to clarify maritime rights in the region". Obama said he realized the ruling raised tensions.

The Arbitral Tribunal of The Hague ruled in July on the South China Sea dispute in a case against China that was unilaterally initiated by the Philippines under the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III.

China has reiterated that the ruling was illegal and said it will not accept any proposition or action based on the decision.

Manila, under new leader-ship that took office in July, supports direct talks with China to solve the dispute.

Foreign Ministry spokes-woman Hua Chunying said on Thursday that China opposes any attempt by forces outside the region to stir up trouble on the South China Sea issue.

Zhu Feng, executive director of the China Center for Collaborative Studies of the South China Sea at Nanjing University, said that "the intervention by countries outside the region is turning the South China Sea disputes into a geopolitical confrontation".

Zhang Yunbi contributed to this story.

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