China has given a positive response to reduce tension in South China Sea, including the freedom to sail and fly in the disputed area.
Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak said his counterpart from China, Li Keqiang, had during the Asean-China summit yesterday said the South China Sea will become an “anchor of peace and stability”, claiming China would not use any military force.
“What is important is that in the issue of South China Sea, China is more positive. He does not want the area to be filled with tension. Their commitment to ensure peace in the region has not changed,” Najib told Malaysian reporters after attending the Asean meeting in Manila with nine other dialogue partners yesterday.
Also present was Foreign Minister Anifah Aman.
Najib said Li Keqiang (photo) during the summit had also said China was ready to resume talks to finalise the Code of Conduct (CoC) related to the South China Sea issue.
“Any difference in opinion must be managed in a positive and constructive manner based on the rule of law, maximum self-restraint and not use force or threats,” he said.
The idea of CoC came about following a counter-claim over areas in the South China Sea, especially between China and the Philippines.
Najib said Malaysia and Asean need to seize the opportunity from China’s rapid economic growth by increasing exports and attracting a large portion of the 150 million odd Chinese nationals who are expected to travel abroad for holidays.
Speaking of the Asean-United States Summit attended by President Donald Trump, Najib said the presence of Trump showed that the commitment of the country towards Asean has not changed, although there has been a change in the leadership and administration.
The prime minister said he had informed Trump and Asean leaders that though there was a change in the president, Asean will continue to be an important area for the United States.
The United States is the third largest (Foreign Direct Investment) partner for Asean, with US$11.7 billion (RM49.14 billion) in 2016 while bilateral trade hit a whopping US$211.8 billion (RM899.56 billion).