Beijing, CHINA, Nov 30, 2014 – Despite a softening stance at the recent APEC leaders’ summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping, in a keynote speech on foreign policy at a Communist Party meeting held last Friday and Saturday (November 28-29, once again strongly stated the protection of Chinese sovereign territory in the face of several maritime disputes with its neighbors.
The official news broadcaster of the Chinese government, Xinhua news agency quoted Xi saying,
“We should firmly uphold China’s territorial sovereignty, maritime rights and interests and national unity,” adding that they would “properly handle territorial and island disputes” using “peaceful development” and opposing the “willful use or threat of force”.
The Philippines, as well as Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have competing claims with China for parts of the Spratly Islands located in the South China Sea, and believed to contain oil reserves, following China’s unilateral reinstatement of their nine-dash line, which extended their territory to cover most of the area.
While communications between the Philippines and China have improved following the summit earlier this month, Chinese maritime forces continue to patrol the contested area.
The leaders of the United States, Australia and Japan (who are also in conflict with China over the Senkaku / Daioyu islands) also called for peaceful resolutions of maritime disputes. US President Barack Obama stressed the consequences of outright conflict within the region, a veiled reference to recent changes in US foreign policy placing more emphasis in a “pivot” to Asia. China views this as an attempt to contain their rising prominence.
While Xi made no direct reference to the US, other than to say that the Chinese Government should “manage well” its relation with other countries, he did go on to say,
“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.”