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Beijing calls on US to remain neutral in South China Sea disputes

2014-07-16 08:51 Global Times Web Editor: Li Yan

China Tuesday called on the US to stay neutral in the South China Sea dispute and respect efforts made toward peace and stability.

"We hope that countries outside the region can stay neutral, distinguish right from wrong and truly respect the joint efforts made by regional countries for peace and stability of the region," China's foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said during a Tuesday press conference.

Hong's comments were in response to a statement made by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Michael Fuchs on Friday. Fuchs called on claimants in the South China Sea to freeze construction, land reclamation, establishment of new outposts and other alterations to the status quo of the region, as well as create an environment for negotiations on the "code of conduct of the South China Sea."

Hong reiterated the fact that China and ASEAN countries signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in 2002 under the commitment of exercising self-restraint, refraining from actions that complicate disputes or jeopardize peace and stability, and dealing with disputes constructively.

"China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters … It is regrettable that certain countries have intensified their illegal presence with construction work and weaponry buildup over recent years, kept infringing upon China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. The Chinese side is firmly opposed to that," Hong said.

The statement comes after the sixth China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue concluded last week in Beijing.

On Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke to his US counterpart Barack Obama on the phone. Both leaders agreed that the dialogue yielded positive results.

Xi called on China and the US to guarantee the positive development of their ties, by promoting the negotiations on a bilateral investment agreement, strengthening coordination and cooperation on major international and regional affairs and settling their differences in a constructive manner based on mutual respect.

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