‘Diplomatic victory’ reflects common China, ASEAN choice for pacific uplift

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Our Correspondent

Beijing—At the East Asian leaders’ meetings China and most of the participating countries focused on the “big picture” of their cooperation on both economic growth and political security, without being distracted by a notorious arbitration of the South China Sea issue.
Some overseas media outlets commented that China has “scored a diplomatic victory” as the arbitration ruling has not been mentioned in the statements issued by the Southeast Asian countries after this series of meetings.
Actually, such a “diplomatic victory” reflects the common choice made by China and most of the ASEAN members: to work with concerted efforts to remove disturbances, and seek common development, mutual benefits and win-win results.
While addressing the East Asian Summit on Thursday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang described the East Asia region as a land “far from conflicts and a bonanza for trade and investment,” adding that such a desirable situation is hard-earned and should be treasured by all countries.
At the summit, the Chinese premier also spelled out China’s stance on the South China Sea issue, saying that China and the ASEAN countries have found a way that not only reflects the rules of international law but also lead to “effective” management of disputes.
He also said that China and the ASEAN nations have the full wisdom and ability to address the South China Sea issue.
Li’s speech, which is in line with the common aspiration of the people in the East Asian region, has won deep understanding and broad support of the participating countries.
In their speeches delivered at the summit, leaders of the ASEAN countries acknowledged the efforts made by China and the ASEAN members in implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and promoting the discussion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).
They spoke highly of the four outcome documents produced during the China-ASEAN leaders’ meetings, saying that China and the ASEAN countries are on their way to find a right path that leads to peace and stability in the South China Sea region as well as a proper solution to the issue.
“The limited scope of Wednesday’s agreement, which had been expected, reflected how Southeast Asian nations have largely moved on from the initial tensions surrounding The Hague tribunal’s ruling and now shifted their focus on ensuring regional stability,” said The Wall Street Journal in an article on Wednesday.
The ASEAN countries have learned that the key to solving the South China Sea issue should be held in their own hands and they should return to the channel of a complete and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), said Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin on Thursday.
Only strengthening cooperation and building mutual trust can safeguard East Asia’s peace and security and maintain its economic prosperity, Liu told a press briefing after the East Asia Summit.
Only two countries outside the region proposed to push the so-called South China Sea “arbitration” at the summit, which runs against the trend of solving disputes through dialogues and consultations, he said.
Instead of solving problems, such a meddling act can only expand differences and contradictions, he added.

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