China pledges peaceful solution of disputes in South China Sea
Jun 5, 2011, 3:16 GMT
Singapore - China on Sunday pledged a peaceful solution of territorial disputes in the South China Sea after the long-running conflict escalated in recent weeks with allegations of aggressive activity by Chinese vessels.
China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia and Brunei have competing claims to various parts of the waters, including the potentially resource-rich Spratly islands and key shipping lanes.
'China is committed to maintaining peace and stability in (the) South China Sea,' Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie said at an Asian security summit in Singapore.
'At present, the general situation in the South China Sea remains stable,' he said, adding that freedom of navigation and overflight had never been impeded.
China has been talking with the other nations to implement a 2002 agreement on the waters between China and the Association of South-East Asian Nations, Liang said on the final day of the Shangri-La Dialogue.
The Philippines on Friday said it had recorded at least five incidents of Chinese incursions into Philippine territories in the South China Sea this year.
Vietnam claimed last month Chinese coast guard vessels had cut the cables of an oil exploration ship of PetroVietnam, the state energy company.
On Saturday, the United States pressed for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates told delegates at the Singapore summit the US feared that 'without agreed approaches to deal with these problems ... there will be clashes.'
On Friday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak urged all parties to 'remain steadfast in their resolve to find a peaceful solution.'
The annual forum, organized by the London-based Institute for Strategic Studies, brings together defence chiefs and security policymakers from 27 nations.