China tries to ease tensions with Southeast Asia
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Last Updated: Thursday, July 21, 2011, 23:22
Nusa Dua: China on Thursday sought to reassure Southeast Asian countries that it was a friendly neighbour, as all sides worked to ease tensions that spiked over a maritime territorial dispute.

Chinese diplomats told their counterparts from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at a summit in Bali that China was intent on improving ties that had soured recently over the South China Sea row.

"We are determined to increase our co-operation with ASEAN countries. We're looking to the future, we have a broad, bright future," Chinese vice foreign minister Liu Zhenmin told reporters on the sidelines of the talks.

"We want to be a good friend, good partner, good neighbour with ASEAN countries."

Liu made his comments shortly after Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his 10 ASEAN counterparts formally endorsed a set of guidelines to lay the framework for a potential code of conduct in the South China Sea.

ASEAN members Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia, along with China and Taiwan, have overlapping claims to parts of the South China Sea, an area believed to hold vast oil and gas resources.

The guidelines approved today were seen as a small but important circuit breaker after the Philippines and Vietnam had accused China of becoming increasingly aggressive in staking its claims to the South China Sea.= "Naturally we are delighted that this has been achieved. It is the product of hard work on the part of many," Indonesian Foreign Minister and summit chair Marty Natalegawa said.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, July 21, 2011, 23:22

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