Engage China on rifts, says Indonesian leader

China`s relations with many of its neighbours have soured in recent years.

Updated: Apr 27, 2011, 12:50 PM IST

Washington: China needs to be brought into regional dialogue to ensure a peaceful resolution to tensions over the South China Sea, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said.

Speaking to US public television, the Indonesian leader acknowledged sensitivities in Southeast Asia about Beijing`s rise but said he believed that in time China "could be a good friend for everybody”.

"I think, why don`t we encourage dialogue that can also bring China in it if you can discuss how to maintain stability and order in South China Sea... I believe that we could avoid tensions in the region," Yudhoyono told `The Charlie Rose Show` in an interview broadcast late Monday.

"In my view, we should have a general talk with China that the expectations of the countries in the region to deal with anything peacefully, politically, and China should be part of that kind of framework."

China`s relations with many of its neighbours have soured in recent years due to what many view as Beijing`s new assertiveness over maritime territorial disputes, particularly with Japan and Vietnam.

China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations agreed in 2002 to develop a code of conduct for the South China Sea. But there has been little progress, with China seen as hoping to settle disputes one-by-one instead of negotiating with ASEAN as a whole.

Yudhoyono said he welcomed an active role by the United States in Southeast Asia. The administration of President Barack Obama, who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, has put a renewed focus on engaging the economically dynamic region.

Bureau Report