“Intervention” by external parties will not help solve the South China Sea issue, said China and Malaysia, two of the claimant states in the disputed waters.
In a joint press statement Thursday, both sides stressed that all claimant states should resolve their differences peacefully through negotiations in accordance with international law like the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“All parties should exercise restraint and avoid taking actions that will complicate matters or heightened tensions in the South China Sea,” they said.
Both sides pledged to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea and stressed the importance of all countries enjoying freedom of navigation and flight based on international law. Other claimants include the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan.
The statement came after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak met Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday at the Diaoyutai State Guest House before a dinner banquet.
With both sides declaring that bilateral ties are at a historic high, Xi told the visiting Malaysian leader that both countries should maintain frequent high-level exchanges to strengthen mutual political trust.
Najib said in turn that both countries are “good neighbors and friends that could be trusted”. He also noted that the bilateral relationship established in 1974 has deepened since it was upgraded to a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2013.
Xi said on state television that both countries should continue to maintain mutual support and understanding on issues important to both sides. “The deepening of strategic alignment will help build a firm foundation for trade and economic cooperation,” he said.
Najib, who will be in China until tomorrow, is on his third visit to the country since becoming Prime Minister in 2009. His visit is being closely watched for signs of a tilt towards China, following Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to there last month.
Najib wrote earlier in the state-run China Daily that bilateral ties between both countries are set to hit new highs through 14 cooperation deals worth RM144 billion (US$47.7 billion) signed during his six-day visit. Among them was their first major defense deal involving the sale of Chinese naval vessels.
In his meeting with Xi, Najib congratulated China on its economic achievements. “Reality has proven that China’s choice of socialist development with Chinese characteristics is correct,” he said.
This article appeared on The Straits Times newspaper website, which is a member of Asia News Network and a media partner of The Jakarta Post