Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) said in a key foreign policy speech that the rising Asian nation would protect its sovereign territory, Xinhua news agency reported, as it faces maritime disputes with several neighbors.
“We should firmly uphold China’s territorial sovereignty, maritime rights and interests and national unity,” Xi told a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) meeting on foreign affairs held on Friday and Saturday, according to excerpts of his speech released by Xinhua yesterday.
Ties between China and Japan have been strained over the past two years after Tokyo nationalized the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), which are known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan and the Diaoyu Archipelago (釣魚群島) in China. Taiwan also claims them.
China, Taiwan and Southeast Asian countries — including Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei — also have competing claims for the Spratly Islands (南沙群島) in the South China Sea.
Xi, added that his country would “properly handle territorial and island disputes” but did not go into specifics.
Relations between China and Japan improved following Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s meeting on Nov. 10, but Chinese coastguard ships have continued to patrol waters around the disputed islands.
OPPOSED TO FORCE
On a more conciliatory note, Xi told officials at the meeting that China sought “peaceful development” and opposed the “willful use or threat of force.”
The leaders of the US, Australia and Japan earlier this month called for peaceful resolutions of maritime disputes, after US President Barack Obama warned of the dangers of outright conflict in Asia as China contests disputed territory.
China views the US foreign policy “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region as an attempt to contain it.
Xi made no direct reference to the US in the portions of his speech released by Xinhua, other than saying Beijing should “manage well” relations with other major countries.
“We should fully recognize the uncertainty in China’s neighboring environment, but we should also realize that the general trend of prosperity and stability in the Asia-Pacific region will not change,” Xi said.
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