Foreign minister pledges to upgrade maritime connectivity with all parties

2023-11-09 08:39:41China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

China underlined on Wednesday the need to resolutely resist bloc-based confrontation and zero-sum games in the world's oceans and resolve disputes through dialogue, and it vowed to upgrade maritime connectivity with all parties.

These pledges were made by Foreign Minister Wang Yi in his address to the opening of the fourth Symposium on Global Maritime Cooperation and Ocean Governance in Sanya, Hainan province.

In a prerecorded video speech, Wang said that disputes over maritime territories, rights and interests left over by history "should be resolved through friendly consultation between parties directly concerned".

Analysts said Wang's remarks serve as an unequivocal reminder of China's strong sense of responsibility as a major country, sending a signal about the consistency of Beijing's maritime policy on the South China Sea to its neighbors in the region, as well as some Western countries, which have stirred up tension in the sea.

Noting that "peace and tranquillity at sea bears on all countries' security and interests", Wang said "it is important to take the legitimate concerns of all countries seriously "and continuously improve emergency communication mechanisms to build solidly grounded and truly lasting maritime security.

China is willing to work with all the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to reach an early conclusion of negotiations over the expected Code of Conduct in the South China Sea to build "a peaceful and secure order in the South China Sea", Wang said.

As a proof of the latest progress between China and ASEAN countries over the South China Sea issue, their senior officials convened on Oct 26 in Beijing, where all parties announced the official launch of the third reading of the code's draft text.

Vice-Foreign Minister Sun Weidong said on Tuesday at a seminar in Shanghai that the code "will provide solid rule-based guarantees for greater effects in managing and controlling differences over the South China Sea".

Experts at Wednesday's forum said that Washington is the largest destabilizing factor behind recent ups and downs in the South China Sea, and it should stop undermining the joint efforts by ASEAN countries and China in managing differences over maritime issues.

Da Wei, a professor and director of Tsinghua University's Center for International Security and Strategy, said that the United States has been seeking to install what it claims as "guardrails" for its ties with China, but it has at the same time been sending military aircraft on so-called "freedom of navigation "operations and close-in reconnaissance at China's doorstep in the sea.

Putting aside the friction in the sea, the two sides could work together more on global maritime governance and cooperation, and make it another highlight such as that on climate change, he added.

Wang Sheng, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, noted that this year marks the 10th anniversary of China's proposal to jointly build the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and countries "need to move faster "in its building in order to advance maritime connectivity.

Since it was put forward, "its maritime routes have reached 117 ports in 43 countries around the world. A number of projects have been implemented, such as the Colombo Port in Sri Lanka", he said.

"Also, we need to build a globally oriented blue partnership and enhance coordination and assistance among countries and regions in maritime affairs," he added.

In his speech, Foreign Minister Wang Yi also said, "The oceans should become a bond that facilitates exchanges and cooperation among countries, not a block that decouples, disrupts supply chains or isolates one from another".

All parties should "share development opportunities and achievements", he said, adding that China will "continue to step up infrastructure cooperation with other countries on such fields as ports and submarine fiber optic cables, safeguard the safety of sea routes, and steadily enhance maritime connectivity".

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