China’s President Xi Jinping has said territorial disputes in the South China Sea must be resolved through negotiations between the countries involved.
He also told an international security forum in Beijing that China was committed to peace and security in the Korean peninsula and would not allow it to fall into war and chaos amid tensions over the North’s nuclear weapons tests.
His comments came as an international tribunal based in The Hague is due to rule shortly on China’s claims to sovereignty in the South China Sea. The case was brought by a rival claimant, the Philippines.
China to build up atoll in contested South China Sea, source says
China has refused to take part in the case, saying the tribunal has no jurisdiction in the matter.
Xi made his remarks as foreign ministers from Asia and Middle East gathered in Beijing for the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia on Thursday.
“We insist we should peacefully resolve the disputes through friendly consultations and negotiations with other parties directly involved,” he said.
China’s reclamation work on islands it controls in disputed areas of the South China Sea has increased tensions in the region.
The United States has mounted a series of naval and air force patrols in these areas to exercise the right to freedom of navigation in what it says are international waters.
The patrols have infuriated China’s government, which describes them as an act of provocation.
Several other countries lay claim to waters in the South China Sea, including the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Xi said China has also “fully and completely” implemented UN sanctions against North Korea after it carried out nuclear weapons and rocket tests.
He added that China would stay with a programme of denuclearisation through dialogue and consultation and would not allow the Korean peninsula to fall into war or chaos.
“Once such a situation happened, it would not do anyone any good,” he warned.
He urged all sides to exercise restraint and return to the negotiating table.
Xi also reiterated his “security vision for Asia” which he put forward at a previous conference on interaction and confidence building in Asia two years ago.
China unlikely to come to North Korea’s defence if tensions escalate over nuclear weapons tests, say Chinese experts
It stated that Asian problems should be solved by Asians themselves, implying that nations outside the region such as the US have no role in regional disputes.
The conference is a regional security forum initiated by Kazakhstan, with 26 member states across Asia and seven observer nations, including the US and Japan.
China has held the group’s two-year presidency since 2014 and will retain the role for a second term until 2018.