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